Tallahassee hospital confirms first childhood COVID-19 death amid push for masks in schools
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

Wearing masks will help reduce the spread among students, pediatricians say.

A child younger than 5 has died with COVID-19 at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare — the first child to die there with the disease, the hospital confirmed Thursday.

The child died within the past month, TMH pediatricians revealed Thursday. As of Friday morning, five children were hospitalized for the infection, one child younger than 5 and four older than 12.

Sources tell Florida Politics it is a 14-month-old who specifically died at TMH. The hospital would not confirm this detail. The hospital also would not confirm whether the child was hospitalized primarily for COVID-19 and whether the child had other comorbidities.

TMH hosted the meeting the day after classes resumed in Leon County. On Tuesday, the Leon County School Board ordered that students wear masks but allowed parents to opt out from that requirement, a walk back from an initial mask mandate for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. The School Board reversed the mandate, which left a doctor opt-out option, after the Department of Health told the district the order violated the DOH’s rules on mask requirements, as directed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Superintendent Rocky Hanna cited an increase in hospitalized children for the push toward masks, which he initiated after a conversation with Dr. Tom Truman, a pediatric critical care physician at TMH.

In a call with reporters Thursday, Truman called the delta variant “a different beast.” Unlike in previous waves, when the majority of pediatric hospitalizations with COVID-19 were incidental findings, the majority now are headed to the hospital specifically for symptoms related to the disease.

“Will the mask prevent the spread of every single case? No, nothing can do that,” he said. “But will it mitigate and have the kids have a better chance of staying safe while staying in school? I think absolutely.”

As of Friday, eight children younger than 16 have died with COVID-19 in Florida while 289,000 have tested positive.

Dr. Nectar Aintablian, a pediatric infectious disease expert at TMH, said many students will be sent home next week and the week after because of exposure to contagious classmates.

“It’s going to happen to every classroom until this passes,” she said.

Universal masking would help reduce the spread, she continued.

“There’s too many factors,” Aintablian said. “We’re taking too many chances, and it’s not responsible to not require masks, because it’s proven. It’s second best to vaccination.”

Both pediatricians pushed back against calls from some parents for temperature checks, both for logistical and medical reasons. Aintablian wasn’t sure temperature checks were effective last year and noted that fevers aren’t a universal symptom in children.

Children younger than 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated. And with a 16% positivity rate in Leon County, what Truman called crisis levels, more children will be hospitalized. Statewide, the positivity rate for children between the ages of five and 12 is 20%, while the rate for those 12 to 18 is 24%.

President Joe Biden‘s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said some studies have shown the delta variant leads to more severe cases in adults.

“With regard to children, this could possibly be the case, but we’re not seeing this in a definitive way,” Fauci said. “The only thing we know for sure is that more infections mean more children will be in the hospital.”

More than 800 physicians in Florida have signed a letter to DeSantis asking him to repeal his school mask mandate ban.

“Blocking communities from making local decisions to protect themselves with his top-down, one-size-fits-all edict will only make matters worse,” they wrote.

The letter campaign was organized by the Committee to Protect Health Care, a group formed to push back against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The organization now pushes for additional expansion of Medicaid and other government health care programs.

The organization has opposed DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the past.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • father gabriel

    August 12, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    IN nyc
    playwright dr larry myers

    covid mask play being done
    gloved six feet apart
    playwrights sanctuary

  • Susan Kelley

    August 12, 2021 at 5:06 pm

    I fear it is only a matter of time before it happens here in Texas. As reporters begin to cover resulting lawsuits in Texas and Florida over School and local mask mandates, I am glasd it will force reporters tolook more at whether Abbott and DeSantis even have the authority under their states’ laws to issue orders that THWART, rather than foster, public health.

  • Andrew Finn

    August 12, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    “Well, it’s 1 – 2 – 3 what are we fightin’ for —— and it’s 5 – 6 – 7 open up the Pearly Gates —— be the first one on your block to have your kid come home in a box —— we ain’t got time to wonder why – whoopie – we’re all gonna die” —————- (Remember?)

    • Dan

      August 13, 2021 at 7:21 am

      What happened to 4?

      • Logan Frost

        August 13, 2021 at 10:58 am

        TMH is the worst hospital in the area. Anyone who put in the time to read this article should look up the hospital and all the issues they have. It’s not surprising to me one bit that a child died there. If you are a parent and love your children, bring them somewhere else. Funny how they won’t release any details about what happened, sounds like to me they are covering up a mistake.

        • Zhombre

          August 13, 2021 at 11:04 am

          No, no, it can’t be the hospital, or any underlying condition of the child. How dare you suggest! This death is purely absoltutely unequivocally incontrovertibly and with metaphysical certainty the work of the DeSatanist Republican Death Cult.

          • tjb

            August 13, 2021 at 11:13 am

            At last, you got it right Zhombre.

          • Zhombre

            August 13, 2021 at 12:02 pm

            LOL. Yeah, in your mind. You are, after all, one of the hysterical nimrods I was parodying.


    August 12, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    This is the result of having a GOP Trumper for Governor. Ron Deathsantis is killing Floridians

  • William Walter

    August 12, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    DeSantis and the state Board of Health (sic) are a literal Death Panel.

  • Jerry

    August 12, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    Hundreds of children die of the flu every year in this country. Why didn’t we do masks then?
    Suddenly 1 death is too many now? It wasn’t a couple years ago.

    • Zhombre

      August 13, 2021 at 9:58 am

      Yeah, Jerry, you display insufficient compassion, insufficient hysteria, insufficient deference to The Science, and insufficient irrational, foam-at-the-corners-of-the mouth hatred for “DeathSantis,” and therefore you are a bad person, beyond redemption. You should be shunned.

    • Matthew Lusk

      August 13, 2021 at 11:51 am

      Their is no evidence the child had covid as the hospital has no electron microscope. There was only a minute amount of flu protein on the inaccurate PCR test. Stop the lies and bull chit reporting! What did the child really die of????

  • Denise

    August 13, 2021 at 12:53 am

    Why is it that we are all in an uproar over masks mandates and nothing being said or anger over a huge pandemic yet we have opens borders with people who are known to be positive for COVID and being sent to different parts of this country without being cared for? Where is the outrage? How do we control the pandemic if we don’t control it at the border? Why is it we don’t have numbers of who are being hospitalized because they are not vaccinated? Who’s fault is that? It is personal choice. Put the blame where the blame needs to be. We stop travel from other countries coming into our country but we keep our borders open. It’s just not common sense. We all went into lock down closed businesses schools churches no funerals don’t have holidays with families but there was free crossings coming across the border! Where is the outrage? Why are we so complacent? We should be pushing for vaccines for everyone including children. Let’s ask Dr Fauci why he hasn’t stood up and dais close the borders. How about the CDC? Let’s ask them about our border situation.

    • Jimmyoo

      August 13, 2021 at 2:38 am

      Oh Denise… You know darn well that the COVID surge is because of the Anti-Van death cult membership bonanza in Florida. Leave the immigrants alone.

    • Zhombre

      August 13, 2021 at 8:07 am

      Four in 10 illegal immigrants released in a Texas city near the U.S.–Mexico border last week tested positive for COVID-19, city officials said.

      “That was very high,” Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz told The Washington Examiner.

      Laredo Health Authority Dr. Victor Trevino confirmed the numbers with the newspaper.

    • tjb

      August 13, 2021 at 11:15 am

      Denise, how many immigrants have Covid? According to FEMA, it is significantly less than what USA citizens have.

      • Zhombre

        August 13, 2021 at 12:05 pm

        How would FEMA know? They do not test all of the illegals that across the border. CBP is overwhelmed, and large numbers of illegals are not apprehended. And if anyone with covid or another pathogen, or with a criminal record, or carrying drugs, isn;t that one too many?

    • Matthew Lusk

      August 13, 2021 at 11:57 am

      What’s really scary is the NAZI Quandt family is now in charge of vaccine passports in the UK and will be using US Post office data along with U S banking data. We are witnessing the fascist new world order coup. The middle class has to go, Marxists and minorities have just been useful tools of the NWO, they will be culled later.

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 13, 2021 at 5:21 am

    Yeah jerk one death is to many! You cruel bastards. Your decision to let some die is based on your belief that vaccines and masks DO NOTHING! Right? No? your decision that is your freedom to kill and maime other Americans is total bs! Seat belts speed limits and required vaccines have been the LAW of our America common good way before Covid!

    • Matthew Lusk

      August 13, 2021 at 12:02 pm

      I’ve never seen a seatbelt on a motorcycle and it was not a requirement for George Washington to keep his foot in the stirrups at all times. The “common good” that is a term sodomite antti popefrancis uses slot.

  • Hubert R. Brown, Esq.

    August 13, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    I was very disappointed in Superintendent Rocky Hanna for folding and back tracking on mask mandates for schools. Our children’s right to life is the most important right Americans have. In fact, the Declaration of Independence states that we are: “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–”
    Thus, one’s alleged right to not wear a mask is trumped by my grandson’s right to live. I would hope Mr. Hanna and the Leon County School Board would recognize our children’s “unalienable right to LIFE” and standup to Governor DeSantis and protect our children/grandchildren.

    • M G

      August 16, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      Traffic accidents kill over 3,000 Floridians each year. Those victims “Right to Live” trumps your choice to drive a vehicle. Please turn in your license…

  • Anna

    August 13, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    My neighbor’s aunt makes 62 every hour on the internet..ii she has been without work for eight months but the previous month her revenue was 19022 only working on the laptop 5 hours a day..

    check this…… http://PayBuzz1.com

  • Zoraida Colon-Collado

    August 15, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    Dear parents:
    If leprosy was present in the classroom, if only ONE kid showed up with it, would you STILL send your child to school? I doubt it.
    What’s the difference with Covid-19 and all it’s variants? It KILLS and much faster and more torturously, yet you PURPOSELY send what you claim to hold sacred, like cows to the slaughter, so as not to upset your “friends” and “neighbors”. Guess you skipped out on the “critical thinking” course, didn’t you?

Comments are closed.


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