Teen Who Died of Possible COVID-19 Lacked Insurance, Delaying Treatment

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said Thursday that a 17-year-old boy whose death had been originally attributed to COVID-19, but is now being investigated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "had been sick for a few days" before he died.

"He had no previous health conditions. On Friday (March 13), the Friday before he died, he was healthy. He was socializing with his friends,” Parris said in a video update posted to YouTube. “By Wednesday, he was dead.

Parris explained that the boy went to an urgent care for an HMO on Wednesday, but because he did not have insurance, he was turned away and instead sent to Antelope Valley Hospital.

"En route to AV Hospital, he went into cardiac arrest. When he got to AV 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.

“We've learned that once you go into respiratory issues -- you have trouble breathing, you're short of breath -- and you have a fever, that is the time to get medical treatment without delay,” he added.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the head of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced the boy's death on Tuesday, as it had been originally reported as a coronavirus case. However, health officials later said the boy's case had beem "complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality."

The case was turned over to the CDC and the boy's death is no longer included in L.A. County's death toll count.

Parris said the boy's death should be a warning for everyone to take this virus seriously and adhere to stay-at-home and other guidelines mandated by health officials.

“To me it's fabulous that everybody is just coming together to get the job done,” Parris said. “Everybody is doing their job and I'm hoping that you are too. Your first priority, keep your kids home. make certain that if you're one of the people who are vulnerable to this -- meaning my age -- that you stay away from people.”

Parris said his wife is now requiring him to take off his clothing in the garage and take a shower before he can interact with her.

“That is how serious we're taking it, and I hope you're taking it as serious as that,” he said.

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