Eighth-Grade Student Dies Hours After Testing Positive For COVID-19

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The family of Mkayla Robinson is searching for answers after the 13-year-old student died "of complications from Covid-19.”

“Mkayla was in the Jr. High Lion Pride Band and was an outstanding band member and student,” the Smith County Reformer in Mississippi reported.

“It is with great sadness, and a broken heart, that I announce the passing of one of my 8th-grade band students. She was the perfect student. Every teacher loved her and wanted 30 more just like her. Please pray for Raleigh Junior High, the band, and especially the family as they deal with this," Raleigh High School Band Director Paul Harrison added.

Robinson had begun the eighth grade at Raleigh Junior High on August 6. Through the early portion of the school year, Robinson had attended class without issue as recently as August 11. Towards the end of last week, Robinson tested positive for COVID-19 and began to feel ill. On August 14, she was formally pronounced dead.

Robinson's death is compounded by the recent actions of Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves. In June, Reeves allowed students to return to school without requiring masks in classrooms. After several students and employees tested positive for COVID-19, Smith County moved to institute a mask mandate of its own on August 10.

“After much consideration for the welfare of our children, Smith County Schools will require all personnel and students to wear a mask,” the district stated.

Days after, Reeves held a press conference regarding the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One day before Robinson was pronounced dead, Reeves said that it is
"very rare that kids under the age of 12 have anything other than the sniffles." He also refers to himself as a "numbers guy," but struggled to recall how many children in the state had been hospitalized due to COVID-19.

“I don’t have any intention of issuing a statewide mask mandate for any category of Mississippians at this time. I don’t know how I can say that different other than the way I’ve said it repeatedly for a number of days and weeks and months,” Reeves said.

“If you look at those individuals under the age of 12, what you find is that it is very rare that kids under the age of 12 have anything other than the sniffles. Does it happen from time to time? Sure it does. I believe we have had one fatality of an individual, maybe it could’ve been two—I think there’s three under the age of 18 at this time? Two?”

Reeves' comments not only show a disregard for what's occurring in his state, but they also show a blatant disregard for what's occurring across the country. Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,900 children's hospitalizations were tied to the virus, a record during the ongoing pandemic. Making matters worse, children under the age of 12 are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Under Reeves' leadership, the state has also endured an ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases. Mississippi, along with seven other states, is responsible for 51% of the nation's new COVID-19 cases.

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