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Mid-South mom mourns loss of 16-year-old son to COVID-19

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 9:11 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Another child’s life has been impacted by COVID-19.

“He loved playing football, loved being around his friends, and once he became a football player he thought he was some type of ladies man,” said Quintina Buckner.

16-year-old Azorean Tatum, a 10th grader at Westwood High School, was getting ready for a game on August 13 when his mother, got the call.

“Called me saying that he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t catch his breath. He was crying. His head was pounding, he couldn’t stand, he couldn’t walk,” said Buckner.

Buckner says he was taken to Baptist Hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19.

She said he previously didn’t have any symptoms, and while she may never know with certainty where he contracted the virus, she is pleading for virtual learning to be an option in Tennessee schools.

“Definitely give the parents the option to do virtual or in-person. Give the parent their right,” said Buckner.

Under state law, school districts are required to do in-person learning.

Shelby County Schools (SCS) says it“must comply with the law as we continue to push legislators to allow local control.” SCS reiterates that all students in grades 4-12 are eligible for Memphis Virtual School.

The latest numbers from the district show 255 students have tested positive.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital has reported five children have died from the virus.

Dr. Nick Hysmith, an Infectious disease specialist, says the Delta variant has a much higher infection rate among children than they had hoped.

“It’s sort of overall. The number is about 30 percent. So, that’s considerably higher than we’ve seen, you know, early on in the pandemic for sure,” said Hysmith.

Tatum’s family has started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses. If you’d like to donate click here.

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