RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A child under the age of 10 died in eastern Virginia on Wednesday from COVID-19, the second fatal juvenile case this week in the region, health officials confirmed.
A health department spokesperson, Larry Hill, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch he could not provide any further information about the child.
The child’s death occurred shortly after that of 10-year-old Teresa Sperry, who died Monday from the virus. According to officials, they are the 12th and 13th juvenile deaths in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.
Sperry, who was from Suffolk, started exhibiting severe symptoms on Sunday but was sent home from a local hospital after a chest scan came back clear. On Monday, Sperry stopped breathing, her family told The Virginian Pilot. She later died at the hospital.
Sperry’s death was officially recorded on Thursday by the Virginia Department of Health but was widely reported by local news outlets on Wednesday. Sperry’s mother, Nicole, wrote on Facebook that her daughter was tasked with walking sick children in her class to the clinic at Hillpoint Elementary School.
Nicole Sperry said she attributes her daughter’s death to parents allowing their sick children to attend school. Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent John B. Gordon III announced Teresa’s death in a letter to the community Tuesday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. He urged students to wash their hands regularly and to avoid touching their eyes, mouth, and nose.
All K-12 students are required to wear a mask in Virginia schools.
On Facebook, Nicole Sperry said Gordon had never contacted her directly and that it was a “sorry excuse of a letter.”
“My beautiful girl was taken from me because people are too damn selfish to care about what could happen to others,” she wrote. “We wore our mask because there are too many in our tribe who are at risk. My daughter was not at risk. And now she is gone.”
Suffolk Public Schools did not respond to request for an interview from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
According to The Virginian-Pilot, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters saw more juvenile cases of COVID-19 in September than any other month of the pandemic.
Health experts say children are still more likely to experience only mild symptoms, but more than 1,000 children have been hospitalized with the virus in Virginia. Even though the pandemic began early last year, 12 of the state’s 13 juvenile deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in 2021, according to the Times-Dispatch.