Lake City high schooler dies from COVID-19 as state’s pediatric hospitalizations hit record high

A Lake City high school student has died from COVID-19, according to a recent report from The Associated Press. She was just days away from the start of her senior year.

The teenager, 17 year old Jo’Keria Graham, was quarantined at home after testing positive for the virus just days before schools started, according to The Associated Press. She seemed to be getting better, her family told The Associated Press, when she collapsed in the bathroom earlier this month.

As she collapsed, the teen told her grandmother she couldn’t breathe, the report said.

Graham was a high school student in Columbia County, which now leads Florida in per capita COVID-19 cases. Teen’s death comes as Florida hospital officials report more serious COVID-19 cases under andoung, healthy adults.

Mid August a Died of COVID-19 at 14 months old Bee Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare — the first child to die there of the disease.

As of Friday, Florida hospitals had 215 pediatric cases of COVID-19, the highest number of child hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. So far, 12 people under the age of 16 have been reported to have died from COVID-19 in the state, including at least five in the past four weeks.

The influx of serious cases of the delta variant among younger people also comes as children go back to school — an event that has caused a stir in the state as officials and parents debate whether school districts should (or can) require students to wear masks.

The latest development in the fight against student masking came on Friday, when a judge in Leon County ruled against Gov. Ron DeSantis and his government’s orders against mask mandates in public schools.

Right John Cooper ruled that the state cannot prevent school districts from requiring masks without allowing parents to opt-out of their children’s mask requirements. That policy arose from a executive order DeSantis issued late last month what Cooper called “random and erratic.”

In addition, Cooper ordered that the Department of Education cannot enforce emergency masking rules without the districts being able to prove that their orders are reasonable.

DeSantis has promised to appeal Cooper’s ruling, with state attorneys who stand by the claim that a parent’s right to choose their children for mask mandates within the Parents’ Bill of Rights the governor signed the law in June.

The debate over student masking also comes as pediatricians call for mandatory face coverings to curb the spread of COVID-19. In the Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatricians for the 2021 school year, it urged children two years and older to wear a face mask.

“AAP recommends universal masking because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines, and masking has been proven to reduce transmission of the virus and protect those who have not been vaccinated,” the organization said in its recommendation.

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