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Claremont 13-Year-Old Dies After Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms

CLAREMONT (CBSLA) — A Claremont family was grieving Friday after a 13-year-old boy, who had been isolating in his room after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, died.

Maxx Cheng
Maxx Cheng, 13, died Thursday night while isolating in his bedroom after experiencing COVID-like symptoms. (Cheng Family Photo)

And though it was not yet clear what caused Maxx Cheng's death, many are concerned that a young, healthy child could could be one of the latest victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

"He had this, like, dream of wanting to go to the Olympics," Charlotte Cheng, Maxx's sister, said.

Quarantined inside her home, Cheng said her younger brother began to feel sick on the Fourth of July.

"Nausea, vomiting, chest pains," she said. "That list that pops up, a little bit, on that initial search, he had all of those symptoms."

On July 9, Maxx's mother took him to get tested for COVID-19. That test came back negative.

"His symptoms matched, but then the test came out negative," Cheng said. "So we were a little bit confused."

Despite the test result, Maxx continued to isolate in his bedroom due to his ongoing symptoms.

"We went to go check up on him, like we normally do," Cheng said. "He wasn't answering. We found him passed out in the room."

Maxx died Thursday night after days of seeming improvement over the past week.

Cheng Family
Maxx Cheng, on the left in this undated family photo, was tested for COVID-19 shortly after experiencing symptoms, though the test came back negative. (Cheng Family Photo)

"There was almost no cough," Cheng said. "The fever had gone down three days before he passed."

In Los Angeles County, only 7% of confirmed COVID cases involve children, another reason Maxx's possible COVID-related death was concerning.

"Somebody who is athletic, somebody who is on the swimming team who is so energetic and active dies from it, it changes the conversation," Nichole Weinstein, a family friend said.

Weinstein's daughter was in Maxx's class. She and some other moms who know the Cheng family have started a GoFundMe page to help them.

"I felt like the risk of them not having kind of a peer group and not having socialization was bigger than the risk of the disease," Weinstein said. "But now I am feeling a little bit differently."

The Cheng family said they had been very careful, even before Maxx got sick, so they didn't know where he could have contracted the illness.

An autopsy report to determine Maxx's cause of death, and whether he had COVID-19, is expected in the coming days.

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