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A grief-stricken probationary New York City firefighter has reported the death of his infant daughter from the coronavirus, according to reports.
Jay-Natalie La Santa died Monday in the Bronx. She would have been 5 months old next week. Dad Jerel La Santa, 30, graduated from the FDNY academy last month and was assigned to a Bronx firehouse.
“Called ‘warrior princess’ a title given to her by her Father Jerel, for her fighting spirit against the horrible covid-19 virus,” the FDNY Hispanic Society, a fraternal organization, said on Instagram in announcing Jay-Natalie’s death.
“She went out looking like a princess,” La Santa told the New York Post Thursday as he fought back tears. “She had such a beautiful white little casket because we didn’t want her in a body bag.”
Jay-Natalie had a pre-existing heart condition and initially tested negative for COVID-19 on March 21st after being admitted to Children's Hospital at Montefiore for a urinary tract infection and bronchiolitis, the Gothamist news outlet reported.
The Post quoted the baby’s mother as saying doctors were unsure if the child had the coronavirus all along and the first test was a fluke — or if she was infected in the ICU, which had been overflowing with adults and children.
Six days later Jay-Natalie was tested again and was diagnosed with COVID-19, the Gothamist reported. She died after being intubated.
"There's so many things we got, so many things we didn't even get to use with her because she was still little," the baby’s mom Lindsey Mahala told the Gothamist through tears. "We have Pampers. We never had to buy any Pampers because we had so much of it. So many wipes. And now, we're looking at her bouncer and it's empty. There's not a baby in it. So many clothes she didn't even get to wear."
She and La Santa thought their daughter was on the road to recovery, then her condition got worse, according to the news outlet.
"[W]e asked [the doctor] what happened, we're confused. And she said that they don't understand. They mostly saw this in adults. They never saw this type of situation happen with a child and that her bloodwork was great. All the levels were perfect. Like this was one of her best nights," Mahala said.
New York City has 145,855 coronavirus cases, according to testing results. There have been 16,388 deaths. The city has reported the four of those deaths were children under the age of 17 with underlying medical conditions.
Mahala told the Gothamist that she hopes Jay-Natalie’s death will serve as a cautionary tale that small children can become infected.
"This virus doesn't discriminate. It's not just attacking the elderly or adults. It attacks children as well," she said.
Danielle Monique who created a GoFundMe page for La Santa and Mahala thanked the FDNY for its support "during this difficult tragedy."