California teen whose death was initially tied to COVID-19 died after being denied treatment at care center: Mayor

Coronavirus

LANCASTER, Calif (KTLA) – A 17-year-old Southern California boy whose death was at first linked to the coronavirus died at a local hospital hours after being denied treatment at an urgent care center, according to the city’s mayor.

The teen, who has not been identified, had been healthy the week before, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris stated in a video posted to YouTube.

“On Friday — the Friday before he died — he was healthy. He was socializing with his friends. By Wednesday he was dead,” the mayor said.

By that point, the boy had been sick for several days, according to Parris, who noted the teen didn’t have any previous health conditions.

On the day he died, the teen sought treatment at an HMO’s local urgent care center. But he didn’t have insurance “so they did not treat him,” the mayor said.

He was sent to Antelope Valley Hospital, but went into cardiac arrest on the way there. The teen was pronounced dead about six hours later.

“By the time he got there, it was too late,” Parris said.

The case gained national attention Tuesday when Los Angeles County health officials attributed the death to COVID-19, making it potentially the first juvenile fatality from the novel coronavirus in the U.S.

But later that night, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health walked earlier statements back.

“Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality,” a statement from the department read. “Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been asked to investigate.

For now, the death is no longer being counted among L.A. County’s 21 total fatalities from the virus, which has also sickened more than 1,200 people, according to the latest figures released Thursday.

While an official cause of death is under investigation, Parris had previously said the boy died from septic shock.

As to why he released further details about the death, the mayor explained, “There’s a lot of rumors around about how he died, what the circumstances were” so he simply wanted to “clarify a few things.” 

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