A 20-year-old Idaho woman died of COVID-19 complications this week, leaving her mother with the devastating last words, "Mama, I don't want to die."
Summer Carr describes being haunted by those final moments with her daughter, Cleo Shepherd, in comments to local news outlet KTVB.
After Shepherd grew frightened when doctors prepared to intubate her, Carr says, "I promised her she was going to be fine. And that was the last conversation I ever had with her."
Shepherd, described as "full of life" by her mother, watched her health rapidly deteriorate after her COVID-19 diagnosis, first developing pneumonia and then kidney failure. It was not immediately clear if she had been inoculated against the virus.
Her death comes as health officials across the U.S. sound alarms over more severe outcomes from COVID-19 for younger people. Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare reported a 6.7-year drop in the state's average age of COVID victims.
Health officials in Florida, Texas, and California have also reported seeing a trend in younger and younger people dying from the virus as the Delta variant continues to drive the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Shepherd is far from the only twentysomething to have her life cut short by the virus this week. A 26-year-old Wisconsin police officer died from COVID-19 on Wednesday, just hours after his second child was welcomed into the world, according to Fond du Lac Police Chief Aaron Goldstein.
"Our entire Fond du Lac Police Department family mourns the passing of Officer Joseph Kurer. Our love and condolences go out to Joseph's wife and children and all those with whom he served," Goldstein said in a statement late Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear where Kurer was thought to have contracted the virus, but his passing was described as "a line of duty death." His vaccination status was also unclear.
Such tragically young deaths continue to be reported across the country. A Kansas middle schooler was also among the latest virus-related fatalities.
Randy Watson, the Kansas Commissioner of Education, revealed the news during a videoconference with the governor on Wednesday, according to the Kansas City Star.
"On an extremely sad note I was just informed literally before I walked in this other room to join you, that we did have a middle-school student pass away of COVID just in the last, maybe, day," Watson was quoted saying.
The death of a 40-year-old mother of four in California was also reported earlier this week. Kristen Lowery, who had declared herself "unmasked, unmuzzled, unvaccinated, unafraid" on Facebook and was an outspoken opponent of the coronavirus vaccine, died on Sept. 15, The Daily Mail reported. Shortly before Lowery's death, her family announced she was battling COVID on social media.
A GoFundMe page set up to cover Lowery's funeral expenses makes no mention of the coronavirus but says she died "suddenly and unexpectedly."
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