A Mesa County girl is dead after having contracted COVID-19, marking the first pediatric fatality recorded by local health officials.

The fatality occurred in the 10-19 age demographic, according to a release from Mesa County Public Health. The deceased was “hospitalized before this age group was eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” the release said. Mesa County began taking appointments for vaccinations for those aged 12-15 on May 13 after approval by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It is our deepest regret to share the news of the first COVID-19-related pediatric death in Mesa County,” Jeff Kuhr, Public Health executive director, said in the release. “This news is shocking and saddening not only for us in Public Health, but for every resident. We extend our deepest sympathy to the child’s family and friends.”

The child in question tested positive for the India variant of COVID-19, which was first identified in Mesa County earlier this month. Mesa County was the first area in Colorado to see the new variant.

The death, which is one of 170 recorded by the county since the pandemic began, comes as vaccine rates continue to decline in the county. For the week ending May 22, Mesa County Public Health reported administering 1,767 new doses of the vaccine, a decrease of 136 from the previous week.

Of those doses, 842 were administered to residents receiving their first COVID-19 vaccine. County health officials are encouraging residents to get vaccinated to further stem the recent spread of the virus.

“As we mourn this loss, we also take this opportunity to urgently plead with each member of our community to consider the proven methods to protect yourself and those you love from COVID-19, including vaccination and social distancing precautions,” Kuhr said in the news release.

The COVID-19 vaccine is available at no cost, and identification or insurance is not required. Eligibility recently expanded to include individuals as young as 12 years of age.

Appointments can be scheduled online at health.mesacounty.us/covid19/vaccine/ or by calling 970-248-6900.

Spanish speakers can call the Public Health Spanish-language line at 970-255-3700.

Anyone with specific questions on the vaccine can email healthinfo@mesacounty.us or call (970) 248-6900. For a Spanish-speaking line, call (970) 255-3700.

On the virus front, Mesa County is nearing a 700 two-week case count, with 694 new positive tests being logged in the last week, including 31 new cases on Tuesday.

Twenty-seven people are now hospitalized in Mesa County. According to the county’s data dashboard, more than 90% of hospital beds are occupied including 88% of Intensive Care Unit beds.