First US minor to die of coronavirus was turned away from care center because he had no insurance
In a video, Mayor R Rex Parris said, 'He didn’t have insurance, so they did not treat him'
William Whang, 17, who is believed to be the first US minor to die from complications arising out of COVID-19, was reportedly turned away at an urgent care center because he didn't have insurance.
According to The Sun, the Mayor of Lancaster, California, said Whang had no previous underlying medical conditions, but had been sick for a few days in the run-up to his death. In a YouTube video posted on Wednesday, Mayor R Rex Parris said, “He didn’t have insurance, so they did not treat him.”
"The Friday before he died, he was healthy. He was socializing with his friends. By Wednesday, he was dead. 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,” added Parris.
The mayor said the staff at the urgent care facility told the teen to try the emergency room at Antelope Valley Hospital, a public hospital in the area, according to the mayor. “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.” By the time he had arrived at the hospital, “it was too late” for him to be saved, said Parris.
According to Time magazine, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health clarified that the patient tested positive for the virus, but there may have been an “alternate explanation” for the death as the case was complex. The case would need to be examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the department announced in a statement.
Dr Barbara Ferrer, head of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, had described the death on Tuesday as “a devastating reminder that COVID-19 infects people of all ages.”
The teenager's cause of death is believed to be a septic shock, according to The Sun The Global Sepsis Alliance says COVID-19 can cause sepsis, which can lead to septic shock. The report added that Whang's family had no idea that the teen had contracted the coronavirus when they held a funeral with the body earlier this week.
Speaking to The Sun, Pariss said: “They had the funeral already. His family has no idea he was the boy in the news. The family didn’t know about COVID-19. They were shaking hands at the funeral.” The family seems unable to catch a creak. Whang's father has reportedly been trying to get tested, but he hasn’t been able to so far.
“He has just been told to self-quarantine,” said Parris, adding that the now-deceased teen “did not meet the criteria for public health to OK a test and the only time he was tested was after he died.”
According to the LA Times, the number of coronavirus cases continued to surge in Los Angeles County, with officials on Friday reporting 257 new cases and five more deaths, bringing the county’s total death toll to 26. “These numbers that I report every day represent the lives of real people, and they are people that are mourned by their families and their friends,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the LA County Department of Public Health.