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California officials to reevaluate first reported US teen coronavirus death after questions arise about actual cause of death


More review is needed

Medical personal stand at a free Covid-19 testing site Monday in Hayward, California. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A 17-year-old teen in California died last week, and his death was initially reported as being the first teenager to die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. However, now officials are backing off that cause of death, saying more investigation is needed to be sure, CNN reported.

What happened? A teenager in Lancaster, California, died on March 18. According to Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, the teen was fine on Friday and then dead by the following Wednesday.

Parris, who said he has spoken to the teen's parents, said they told him they took their son to an urgent care when he began showing symptoms of respiratory distress, but were turned away because they didn't have insurance and sent to an emergency room.

The teen tested positive for the coronavirus at the hospital, and his parents were also told they had the virus. One of the teen's friends from school, as well as the friend's father, tested positive. Parris fears more people may have been infected through close interactions at the funeral, when many people may have been unaware the teen had coronavirus.

Lancaster, located in northern Los Angeles County, has a population of about 160,000.

What do health officials say now? In a Tuesday night statement, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said there may be more to the death than was initially reported.

"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 statement read. "Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time."

The teen's death gained national attention because the death rate among people with no underlying health conditions is extremely low, and the death rate among people 19 and younger is even lower, leading many to conclude there is relatively little danger to teens and children from COVID-19.

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