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Two South Carolina schoolchildren die of COVID-19

One of the children was 9 years old, while the other was 15.

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. — Two Aiken County children have passed away from complications from COVID-19. 

Aiken County Coroner Darryl Ables said 9-year-old Ethan Blue of North Augusta died on September 1. That same day, 15-year-old Emily Brosnahan succumbed to the illness as well. 

Blue went to North Augusta Elementary School. It wasn't immediately clear which school Brosnahan attended. 

RELATED: Aiken County school board to meet following two student COVID deaths

Pediatric COVID-19 deaths--those 17 years and younger--remain rare both in the state and across the nation, making up less than one percent of all COVID-19 deaths.  According to the state's health agency, SCDHEC, 5 children age 10 and younger died from the virus in South Carolina while 11  youngsters age 11 to 20 also passed away.

However, doctors say the Delta variant of COVID-19 appears to be more contagious in children than previous versions, and children's hospitals in Columbia and other parts of the state say they've been at or near capacity with both childhood COVID-19 patients and those with other respiratory illnesses. 

Children ages 12 and up are eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine, but those younger are not. Several vaccine manufacturers are seeking FDA approval to be used for children, but it's unclear when that might happen. 

RELATED: Prisma Health professionals beg public to trust them, help stop pandemic

Meanwhile, schools across South Carolina continue to deal with COVID cases and the resulting quarantines of kids who come in contact with those who test positive. At last check, 13 schools in Lexington County had to move to temporarily move to remote learning, while Clarendon School District Two is all remote this week as well. 

RELATED: Prisma Health reports spike in COVID hospitalizations of younger people

SCDHEC and the CDC have recommended children wear masks in schools to stop the virus' spread, but due to a proviso--or spending condition--passed in this year's state budget, South Carolina school districts cannot mandate such a rule. Last week, a South Carolina Supreme Court decision struck down an attempt by the City of Columbia--and by extension, all other cities and counties--to pass a mask mandate by a local government body. 

RELATED: SC Supreme Court strikes down Columbia school mask mandate