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A Texas family grieving the loss of their 17-year-old daughter who died after contracting the novel coronavirus say that her mother, her biological father, her stepfather, and an older sibling have also since tested positive for COVID-19. Jameela Barber, a junior at Lancaster High School, is believed to be the youngest victim in Dallas County, Fox 4 News reported.
“Just a beautiful spirit, young lady to be around,” Henry Brown, the teen’s stepfather, told Fox 4 News. “You couldn’t ask for a smarter 17-year-old than her.”
The teen, who was a cadet leader and member of the National Honor Society, had apologized to teachers for not submitting assignments while feeling ill, NBCDFW.com reported.
“She said to her [teacher], ‘As soon as I feel better, because I’m feeling really, really sick, I’m going to turn in my missed assignments,’ and that baby passed away the next day,” Lancaster High School Principal Eleanor Webb told the news outlet.
Brown said the family has not told Barber’s 5-year-old sister about her April 25 death. He said the 5-year-old has not tested positive for the virus.
According to Fox 4 News, a family member who worked at Methodist Hospital is believed to be the first relative who was exposed before it spread to others. The teen’s biological father is currently hospitalized due to the virus and requires breathing support.
“Everybody, I mean everybody needs to take this serious,” Brown said. “The government wants to open up but Texas is not ready to open up so I ask that everybody take this seriously. Stay in, keep your mouth, and keep your face covered. Take this serious, this thing is real. This is no hoax.”
Dallas County has confirmed over 3,530 cases of COVID-19, including at least 104 deaths. At least 85 illnesses have been confirmed in residents between 0 and 17 years old. Nationwide, there have been over 1,070,032 illnesses and at least 63,019 deaths.