A California teen has died after experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms. Thirteen-year-old Maxx Cheng got tested for COVID-19 after falling extremely ill but received a negative result. However, days later the boy passed away in self-isolation. Now, his family believes COVID-19 may have caused his death as they await the results of an autopsy.
Cheng’s sister Charlotte told CBS 2 news her brother began to feel sick on July 4. Googling his symptoms, the family found them to be consistent with the effects of COVID-19.
“Nausea, vomiting, chest pains,” she said. “That list that pops up a little bit on that initial search, he had all those symptoms.”
After days without his condition improving, Cheng’s mother took him to be tested for COVID-19 on July 9. However, the results of the test came back negative.
“His symptoms matched, but the test came out negative,” said Charlotte. “So we were a little bit confused.”
Despite the negative test result, Cheng’s condition continued to worsen as he developed a fever and cough. During this time he self-isolated in his room, said his sister.
After about a week in isolation, Cheng’s symptoms seemed to subside, giving his family hope for recovery.
“He was feeling a lot better this week. There was no more cough, the fever had gone down,” said Charlotte.
Unfortunately, the improvement didn’t last, and Cheng passed away in his room on Thursday, July 16.
“We went to go check up on him, like we normally do. He wasn’t answering. We found him passed out in the room,” his sister said.
Cheng’s official cause of death has yet to be determined as the family awaits the results of an autopsy. However, his parents told ABC News that they feel COVID-19 may have caused their son’s tragic passing.
Experts have previously raised concerns about the potential for false negative results in COVID-19 testing. A June study from John Hopkins Medicine found that testing people for the virus too early often led to negative results in patients who eventually tested positive.
“A negative test, whether or not a person has symptoms, doesn’t guarantee that they aren’t infected by the virus,” said Lauren Kucirka, a John Hopkins obstetrics and gynecology resident.
Others have pointed out that, due to the high demand for testing, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has relaxed requirements regarding how closely tests are studied for accuracy.
“The whole testing field is in flux,” said Bill Miller, an Ohio State University epidemiologist, according to Advisory Board. He added that most tests are “going through a really rapid validation process,” and consequently, “we can’t be completely confident in how they will perform.”
Nicole Weinstein, whose daughter attended school with Cheng and his twin brother, has helped set up a GoFundMe page to assist with final arrangements as well as college for the boy’s siblings.
“I feel like Maxx was one of ours, he was one of our children, one of Claremont’s finest and we all are very sad,” Weinstein told ABC 7 news. “Whether we knew him or didn’t, he’s one of our children, he’s one of our youth.”