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A five-month-old child in Merced County has tested positive for COVID-19, health officials said Wednesday.

It’s the county’s first infant-related infection and the health department is expressing concern about an uptick in the number of children contracting the disease.

“It is crucial that we protect the vulnerable populations in our community, which includes young children,” said Dr. Salvador Sandoval, Merced County’s health officer.

“Now is not the time to become complacent.” — Dr. Salvador Sandoval

“This case highlights the importance of following local health orders and practicing safety measures in our daily routines,” he said in a news release. “Transmission levels will continue to rise and will affect our loved ones unless we make a difference by doing our part.”

Overall Infections in Children Rise

The county reported a four-fold increase of COVID-19 infections in children under 18 in the past two weeks. There have now been 12 confirmed pediatric cases to date out of 180 total infections in the county.

Officials have reported a total of 49 additional cases since May 1 in Merced County and four deaths since the coronavirus outbreak began.

The health department warned that COVID-19 is continuing to spread locally and urged the public to follow health orders. Their recommendations include limiting trips out of the home, wearing a face-covering around others, practicing social distancing and frequent hand washing.

Though stay-at-home orders are being relaxed across the state, Sandoval said, “Now is not the time to become complacent.”

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