After the tragic death of a 9-year-old Florida girl due to COVID-19, her family is urging people to do what they can to slow to spread of the coronavirus.
“I pray that what they take away from the story and what they learn is COVID-19 is something serious,” Dejeon Cain, family spokesperson, told TODAY. “If we continue with this path, in the same behavior in our state and in our country, we're going to lose a lot of more lives and a lot more young lives.”
The family is based in Northeast Florida. The state surpassed 400,000 total coronavirus cases last week, and has an average of over 10,000 new cases per day. As cases are spiking, public schools are expected to reopen next month which led the largest teachers union in Florida to sue Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum's death highlights the many unknown questions about how the coronavirus impacts children. Kimmie is thought to be one of the youngest coronavirus victims in Florida. In July, she contracted COVID-19 and died soon after. Cain said the family does not wish to discuss the details of Kimmie’s illness but noted that she had no risk factors that made her more susceptible to COVID-19.
“She had no underlying conditions,” Cain said. “She was a very healthy young lady and that is according to the Putnam County coroner's office.”
It is unclear how Kimmie contracted the virus.
TODAY reached out to the Florida Department of Health for a statement, but has not received a response. Kimmie’s death comes on the heels on another family tragedy: Kimmie’s dad, Theophilus Lynum, died about a month and a half earlier. Cain said during that funeral he saw that Kimmie had a “resilience about her” that the family remembers as they mourn her. Their faith is helping them navigate this challenging time.
“God is able to keep us together,” Cain said. “It has been very difficult, very hard … we want to get the positive message out about things that will strengthen our family.”
The family set up a Go Fund Me to help cover Kimmie's funeral expenses. Remembering how upbeat and kind Kimmie was certainly helps the family grapple with their grief.
“You won’t find a better child. She always had a smile. Always happy, just joyous, and she brings smiles to others,” Cain said. “She was just remarkable.”
He hopes that by hearing about Kimmie, people will social distance and wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus — and prevent others from losing loved ones.
“This pandemic is definitely catastrophic,” he said. “We need to adjust and get along with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and also understand that social distance is very, very important. And we need to take our time so that we can get this virus under control in our country, in our neighborhoods.”