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Communities In New Jersey, Connecticut In Mourning Following Possible Flu-Related Deaths Of 2 Young Children

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Two communities were on edge Monday night after two more young girls from the area died from possibly flu-related symptoms.

One occurred in Connecticut, another in New Jersey.

Emma Splan
Emma Splan became Connecticut's second confirmed pediatric death due to flu. (credit: Christy Pugh)

Columbus Magnet School officials in Norwalk, Conn., say 6-year-old Emma Splan died over the weekend from flu complications. That has yet to be confirmed by state health officials, however.


"As a precaution, I have asked for a deep cleaning to be completed before school reopens on Tuesday," said Principal Medard Thomas.

Thomas described Emma as a child who was always doing the right thing.

If confirmed, Emma's would be the second pediatric flu death in Connecticut this season. Just five weeks ago in New Canaan, 10-year-old Nico Mallozzi died of the flu.

"It's terrible. It's the first I've heard about it. It's shocking," one man told CBS2.

Daniela Genaro
Daniela Genaro (credit: Erika Genaro)

Meanwhile, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the family of Daniela Genaro says she died of the flu. That has yet to be confirmed by the health department.

"I'm sad, everyone's sad," Daniela's uncle, Carlos Romero, told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

Genaro is the third child in New Jersey to die from flu complications this season. Roughly a week ago, 6-year-old Neveah Hernandez died of the virus in North Bergen, even though her family says she got a flu shot.

Parents in the area are worried.


"I feel very worried. I've got two kids who are in school. I saw the news last night. I was surprised when you hear it, that it's so close to your home," said parent Henry Marquez. "Since we started hearing, we've been washing her hands, and letting the children know it's very serious.

Elizabeth school officials say as of Jan. 30, 16 students and faculty members in the district reported flu-like symptoms - it was half the number this time last year.

"All schools have been sanitized each day since the Fall with a Neutral Disinfectant DS-1 which is effective in removing all pathogens," said superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer. "The district will continue to disinfect all schools and will continue to be diligent about encouraging good hand hygiene."

In addition, says Hugelmeyer, all buses were also sanitized.

She also reminded parents of protocol to keep kids out of school if they have a fever of 100 degrees or more until such students have been symptom free for at least 48 hours.

Marina Lorenz says she's still planning to keep her second grade son home.

"I don't feel confident in the school district, I don't feel confident sending my son to school," she said. "He has health impairments and the last thing he needs is to catch a flu and god forbid another tragedy."

Even high schoolers share Lorenz's anxieties.

The school district spokesman said due to the investigation and privacy laws, the district cannot reveal the child's age, gender, or even which school the child attended. It was not clear whether the child had been vaccinated for the flu.

In New Jersey, the flu shot is mandated for preschool and day care only.

Elizabeth schools were closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday, but were scheduled to be back in session Tuesday. Grief counselors will be available for students and faculty.

An informational session was held for parents Monday evening at Columbus Magnet School. Grief counselors will be on hand Tuesday and will be around as long as necessary, according to officials.

In Rockland County, the New City Fire Department is raising money to cover medical costs for 19-year-old firefighter Will McCue who they say has been hospitalized in critical condition with the flu for the last two weeks.

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