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03/29/2020 / By Isabelle Z.
The death of a 17-year-old California boy made headlines for being the first U.S. minor death from coronavirus, but now health officials are saying that whether he died from the disease or another cause is not yet clear.
However, one thing is for certain: Both he and his father tested positive for the virus, and his father is now worried he might have passed the virus to others who greeted him at the service as their coronavirus status wasn’t known until after the ceremony. According to a friend of the boy, no one at his funeral knew that he had coronavirus when they were at the service.
Although the case was widely reported as being the nation’s first minor to die of the illness, it now appears that health authorities believe something else could have ultimately been responsible for his death.
When he became ill, his parents first brought him to an urgent care center, but they were turned away because the young man did not have any health insurance. He was then brought to the emergency room of a local hospital a few days later, where he ultimately succumbed to septic shock. It’s not known how he may have contracted the virus, but his father works as an Uber driver.
The CDC is now reviewing his case while county officials try to determine an official cause of death.
The mayor of Lancaster, R. Rex Parris, was unhappy about the way the boy was treated. He said that at the first hospital he visited, the staff’s first priority should have been to stabilize him rather than asking for insurance. He added that the boy was not believed to have any underlying health issues, and he warned people to keep their children at home.
A friend who attended the teen’s school, Lancaster High School, and the friend’s father have also both tested positive for the disease.
A statement issued by L.A. County Public Health Department read: “The juvenile fatality that the Los Angeles County Department Public Health reported earlier today will require further evaluation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality. Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time.”
A stay-at-home order went into effect last week for the state’s 40 million residents, who are only allowed to leave for essentials such as food, medication, health care, and critical jobs. The state’s number of coronavirus cases has been doubling every three or four days, which is faster than the six to seven days they predicted. So far, the state has seen more than 2,500 cases and 53 deaths. Among the 600-plus cases of coronavirus registered in L.A. County so far, just 10 involve children under the age of 17.
Officials have said that young children have a lesser risk overall than older people when it comes to contracting the virus, and it’s believed that their undeveloped immune systems may be preventing their bodies for triggering inflammation that is strong enough to cause pneumonia, organ failure or septic shock.
But while their risk may be lower, it is important to note that they are far from immune to coronavirus, with a 10-month-old and 14-year-old in China believed to have died from it.
Another problem is that because children are often asymptomatic, they can carry the illness and pass it to more vulnerable family members if extreme caution isn’t used.
Whether this young man died from coronavirus or not, his case serves as a reminder that it’s a disease that can affect all of us, and getting early care and taking steps to prevent spreading COVID-19 it is essential.
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