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Lancaster Teen Who Died Of Possible COVID-19 Complications Lacked Insurance, Delaying Treatment

LANCASTER (CBSLA) — A 17-year-old boy in Lancaster, whose death was said to be from COVID-19 but is now being investigated by federal health authorities, sought treatment at an urgent care center but was turned away due to lack of insurance, according to the city's mayor.

In a YouTube video, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said the unidentified teen "had been sick for a few days.''

"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. "By Wednesday, he was dead."

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"Wednesday, he had gone to an urgent care for an HMO. He didn't have insurance so they did not treat him and sent him to AV (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."

"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 said.

The boy's death was originally reported Tuesday when Los Angeles County health officials announced four more deaths and 128 new confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, head of the county Department of Public Health called the case "a devastating reminder that COVID-19 affects people of all ages."

A statement that evening from the public health department said the teen's fatality would require further evaluation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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"Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality," the department said in a statement. "Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time."

As of Friday morning, the teen's death is no longer included among the county's 21 fatalities attributed to COVID-19.

During a news conference Tuesday evening, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned Angelenos of all ages were at risk.

"To the young people that are out there — this can hit you too," Garcetti said. "Know that your behavior can save a life and can take a life,and that life could be yours."

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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