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Teen dies after being denied urgent care due to lack of insurance. He tested positive for COVID-19

After being turned away from the urgent care centre, the teen was then rushed to an emergency room at a local hospital where he went into cardiac arrest.

Teen dies after being denied urgent care due to lack of insurance. He tested positive for COVID-19
Image Source: Getty Images (Representative)

The death of a 17-year-old Southern California boy has raised a number of questions after the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health backpedaled from its initial stance that he was a victim of COVID-19. Health officials are now reevaluating the death of the Lancaster teen, who was initially described as the first known juvenile to die from the coronavirus in the United States. Hours after linking his to the Coronavirus pandemic, officials said his case needs more review by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


In a daily update video posted to YouTube, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris revealed that the teen was turned away from an urgent care center because he didn't have health insurance. Although his parents rushed him to an emergency room at a local hospital where he went into cardiac arrest. "When he got to [the] hospital, they were able to revive him and keep him alive for about six hours. But by the time he got there, it was too late," Parris said in the video. "He had been sick for a few days; he had no previous health conditions. On the Friday before he died, he was healthy; he was socializing with his friends. By Wednesday, he was dead."


Speaking to CNN, the mayor expressed frustration with the urgent care center that turned the teen away because of his lack of health insurance. "When a kid comes in respiratory distress, stabilize him and call an ambulance, don't ask for insurance," he said, adding that he's not aware of any health issues the teen may have had. The mayor also revealed that the teen was tested for Coronavirus at a hospital and that when the results came back, his parents were also told they were infected with the virus although they hadn't been tested. Parris also criticized county officials for the time it took them to determine the boy's death. The teen died on March 18—almost a week before the LA County Department of Public Health attributed the death to the pandemic.


"On Friday he was fine, on Wednesday he was dead," the mayor said. "That's five days. I can't believe it took a week to find out a child in my city died. In a statement backtracking its initial stance counting the teen as a COVID-19 fatality, the county said: "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."


Meanwhile, according to Daily Mail, several members of a family who claim to be close to the 17-year-old are said to have tested positive for the virus.  Melissa Derose's daughter, Hailey, was a good friend of the deceased teen and had spent time with him in the days preceding his sudden demise. The concerned 35-year-old mother revealed that her initial shock upon hearing of his death had quickly turned into concern for her own child.


"The last day of school was Friday 13 and he seemed absolutely fine so to learn on Wednesday that he had died was just shocking," she said. "They were all trying to find out what happened and one of the friends asked the boy's brother online and he said it was pneumonia. My first thought was I hope it’s not related to COVID-19. Without a doubt I was immediately concerned because here was this healthy kid and all of a sudden he’s dead from pneumonia." Hailey and Derose's husband have since tested positive for the virus. 


Disclaimer: Information about COVID-19 is swiftly changing, and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

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