At least 4 more Georgia children have died of COVID-19

ATLANTA — At least 4 more Georgia children have died of COVID-19 in recent weeks, according to the Georgia Department of Health.

On Wednesday, Channel 2 Action News reported that a 13-year-old boy in Floyd County died of COVID-19, according to the coroner. Porter Helms was found not breathing after contracting the virus and died of respiratory failure.

As of Thursday, Helms’ death had not been added to the state’s official tally of COVID-19 deaths, but three more children’s deaths were reported on state data.

According to the Georgia Department of Health, a 1-year-old girl from Thomas County, a 14-year-old girl in Jackson County and a 17-year-old boy in Barrow County also died of COVID-19.

The girl in Jackson County had comorbidities. It was unclear if the infant and the 17-year-old boy had prior health issues.

Channel 2′s Tom Regan spoke to the Barrow County coroner, Kenny Cooper, who said the 17-year-old died at an Atlanta children’s hospital in early August.

“They said it was cardiac arrest and COVID and pneumonia,” Cooper said. “My heart goes out to the family. It’s tough to bury a child.”

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A total of 15 children ages 17 and under have died of the virus, according to the Georgia Department of Health.

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The children’s deaths come as children ages 0-17 are being infected with COVID-19 at a higher rate than at any other point during the pandemic.

Dr. Gary Voccio with the Georgia Department of Public Health said the number of infections is soaring.

“A number of young people are being hospitalized, particularly between the ages of 5 and 17,” Voccio said. “There’s almost a doubling of that in Georgia.”

The 7-day average for cases among children was 2,146 on Wednesday. During the previous peak on Jan. 14, 868 children were being diagnosed with the virus per day on average.

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The surge comes as metro Atlanta schools enter their second month of being back in the classroom. Over 22,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among students and staff at metro Atlanta schools since the start of the school year.

Regan spoke to Kayla Hart, a mother of three, who said the rising numbers of COVID deaths among kids and teens has her worried about her own young children.

“There’s a lot of anxiety around that. Because as a parent, he could be one of those kids,” Hart said. “My heart goes out to the parents.”

Jill Woschitd, who is 19 and vaccinated, said the increasing number of infections among young people is troubling.

“I heard it really does affect old people, but for it to really affect teens and them dying is just heartbreaking,” Woshcitd said.