WISHEK, N.D. — A 2-year-old boy in the town of Wishek is North Dakota’s first case for a child under age 10 and the child care provider for the family has shut down.

McIntosh County health officials on Thursday, March 26, confirmed the county's first coronavirus case, saying the boy had been hospitalized but is now recovering at home.

The child care provider for the boy’s family, Jamie Vetter, said her Wishek day care is closed for at least 14 days as of Thursday.

Vetter said she's licensed for 30 children but numbers can vary from nine to 20. As of Thursday morning, she was still compiling the list of those who were in direct contact with the sick child.

McIntosh District Health Unit Administrator Cheryl Schilling said the child who tested positive does have underlying health issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.

Schilling said that social-distancing, frequent hand-washing and avoiding touching one's face saves lives. “It is all about protecting our most vulnerable population,” she said. “Everyone in every age group is important,” she added. “We just know statistically who faces the highest risk.”

In addition to such precautions, the CDC recommends laundering items including washable plush toys. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

Wishek is a town of about 1,000 people in a county of 2,600 people in south-central North Dakota.

Bev Vilhauer, South Central Health administrator in Wishek, said the town's hospital is licensed for 24 beds but is staffed for eight. They have two ventilators on hand, one in the hospital and one with the ambulance service, but beyond emergency use, the hospital doesn't have a respiratory therapist or an intensive care unit. Should a patient require that specialized care, they would be transferred to another hospital.

Schilling urged calm for local residents. “Hold onto the facts,” she said, “and we'll be OK.” Instead of getting dubious information from social media or the rumor mill, “Speak to your trusted health professional,” she said.

“We knew we were going to get a case sooner or later,” Schilling said.

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