A 17-year-old from California whose death was linked to coronavirus was denied care at a medical facility for not having health insurance, a report claims.
The teen had fallen ill late last week and tried to get treated at an urgent care facility in his hometown of Lancaster, the Independent reported. The medical staff there told the teen to seek treatment at a local hospital, but he went into cardiac arrest on his way to the hospital and died hours later.
R. Rex Parris, the city’s mayor, said in a video posted this week that the teen’s condition took a sharp turn in a matter of days.
“The Friday before he died, he was healthy,” Parris said in a video posted to the City of Lancaster’s YouTube channel. “By Wednesday, he was dead.”
It was not fully clear if the teen died from the effects of the novel coronavirus. As NBC News reported, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health initially said that the teen died from the COVID-19 virus, but later took back the statement and said his death was still under investigation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was also not clear whether the teen could have survived had he received treatment at the urgent care center.
If the virus does end up being the cause of death, then the teen would be among the younger victims of COVID-19, the virus that has spread around the world and done the most damage among older populations and those with compromised immune systems. The Independent report noted that there have been a handful of other young people to die, including a teen in Louisiana and a 21-year-old woman in the U.K., but the majority of victims across the world have been 60 years old and older.
The California teen’s death also highlighted the difficulties the medical system has faced in treating the large number of victims. In the hardest-hit areas, hospital systems have not had enough medical equipment and supplies to treat all patients, reportedly leading some to make difficult decisions about who can receive care and who can not.
California was one of the first states to put in place a “stay at home” order, telling residents to remain in their homes and ordering the closure of all non-essential businesses. A number of other states would follow, instituting stringent measures in order to slow the spread of the virus and allow health care systems to keep up with the pace of infections.