The mother was hospitalized for respiratory issues last week and had to be placed on a ventilator, said William Clark, coroner for East Baton Rouge Parish. She had tested positive for coronavirus and was suffering from a high fever and shortness of breath, Clark said in a virtual press conference broadcast on Facebook Live.
“She went into preterm labor and ultimately delivered the baby prematurely,” Clark said of the mother, whose name and age are not being released.
“The baby, because of the extreme prematurity, did not survive," the coroner said.
Test results for the baby are pending, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.
But Clark said state health officials are still naming COVID-19 as the cause of the death of the baby, who was born at 22 weeks gestation.
“We all agree that this would be considered a COVID-19 related death because of the positive nature of the mother in this scenario,” he said. “Had she not been COVID-19 positive, had not required ventilatory support, had not had shortness of breath and the hypoxia that's associated with the virus, likely she would have not gone into preterm labor and there would have been a different outcome.”
The coroner said this case is the first of its kind in Louisiana, which has been badly hit by the coronavirus, with 14,867 cases including 512 deaths as of Monday. Clark said 27 parishioners in East Baton Rouge Parish have died of the virus.
While the coroner does not have an update on the mother’s condition, he said she is alive. He said he hopes this “incredibly sad case” underscores the necessity to follow social distancing orders in place throughout the state.