As the outbreak spread to the United States, data from Chinese health professionals showed that children did not appear to catch the virus in the same number as adults. If they did, they did not develop severe symptoms.
Now New York statesman Andrew Cuomo is warning of alarming signs that it may not be entirely true.
A 5-year-old boy in New York City died Thursday of coronavirus-related complications, Cuomo said at a news conference Friday afternoon, adding that the state's health department is investigating "several other cases presenting similar circumstances."
"This would be very painful news and would open up a whole other chapter because I can't tell you how many people I talked to who took peace and comfort in the fact that children were not infected," Cuomo said. "We thought kids could be vehicles with transmission … but we didn't think kids would suffer from it."
The Governor did not name the child.
Health officials believe it may be related
In an advisory sent to health professionals earlier this week, state officials said dozens of New York City children have been hospitalized with a condition that doctors have described as "pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome."
New York City had announced on Monday that 15 patients between the ages of 2 and 15 were hospitalized for the past three weeks with Covid-related syndrome.
Most of them tested positive for coronavirus or had positive antibody tests.
Some of the children had persistent fever, toxic shock syndrome and features similar to Kawasaki disease, the state health council said.
Kawasaki disease causes inflammation of the walls of the arteries and can restrict blood flow to the heart. Although it is usually treatable and most children recover without serious problems, it can also be fatal. It mainly affects children under 5 years.
Not just New York
Similar cases have been reported in Italy and Spain.
Hospital admissions flat
A total of 216 people across the state of New York died from coronavirus Thursday, Cuomo said at a news conference Friday afternoon, referring to the statistics as "the most important and also the most painful."
The number of new COVID hospital admissions has been flat in recent days, he said.
"We would hope to see a steady, sharp decline in these numbers … it's not what's happening, it's more flattening."
General hospital admissions and intubation rates are down, Cuomo said.
CNN's Mallory Simon, Jamie Gumbrecht, Joe Sutton, Faith Karimi and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.