11-year-old Miami-Dade boy dies from COVID-19 amid rise in new cases

MIAMI (WSVN) - An 11-year-old boy from Miami-Dade County is one of the latest casualties of the coronavirus.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the child died on Tuesday. He is the youngest known fatality from the virus in the state.

The patient’s family identified him as Daequan Wimberly and said he had been taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital​.

His father, Jerry Wimberly, spoke to 7News on the phone about the tragedy, Thursday night.

“He somehow or another contracted the virus in his goings day to day, and the virus got the best of him,” he said.

The boy’s father said he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials said the child’s death was not travel-related, and it is unknown if he had contact with someone with a confirmed case of the virus.

His father said the boy was full of life, was active in church, and he also had had severe underlying health conditions, making his battle more difficult.

“Though he was 11 years old, age doesn’t matter. The virus doesn’t care,” he said.

Health officials said Paul Muao, a Transportation Safety Administration agent at Miami International Airport, also died due to COVID-19.

Wimberly’s death was announced on the same day as more than 10,000 new confirmed cases of the virus were reported in the state. The new cases equal the largest single-day increase in Florida at this point in the pandemic.

Of the new cases, 2,304 of them are in Miami-Dade. With the record rise, county leaders are working to identify hot spots.

Thursday morning, the county’s Strategic Unified Response to Guideline Education (SURGE) team went door to door in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood to give residents helpful information about the coronavirus. They also dropped off kits that contained masks and hand sanitizers.

“I like what they’re doing, coming to the neighborhood, trying to make us more aware, giving us masks, because a lot of people need masks,” said an area resident.

“Due to the circumstances going on, I think that’s very good,” said another resident.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was also in Liberty City, where he stressed the importance of wearing facial coverings.

“Wearing a mask is actually a symbol of respect,” he said.

On Wednesday, Gimenez announced a countywide mandate that now requires individuals to wear masks indoors and outdoors, regardless of social distancing.

“No one enjoys wearing a mask, but that’s what we need to do to save lives,” he said.

Gimenez also said he is working to provide more COVID-19 testing for people in hot spot zones.

In Coconut Grove, Miami Commissioner Ken Russell and Grove Police Commander Weslyne Lewis were also out distributing masks.

“The more you wear a mask, the more you’re helping our local economy stay open and get back open,” said Russell.

Broward County followed Miami Dade’s lead, implementing a countywide mask mandate that requires people to wear a mask in public spaces. The difference is that people who are outdoors are only required to wear face coverings if they’re unable to social distance.

Broward reported nearly 1,000 new cases on Thursday.

Broward Mayor Dale Holness reminded people to enjoy the holiday weekend safely.

“Together we can stop the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

In a video message, South Florida DJ Khaled cautioned his fans to observe safety guidelines.

“I want to talk to the young world, and I want to talk to everybody,” he said. “We have to wear our masks, everywhere we go. We have to protect our kids, our babies, and we have to protect our mothers and fathers. We have to protect all of us,” he said.

Dr. J. Glenn Morris, a researcher from the University of Florida, said that with cases continuing to climb, some people should consider self-isolating.

“For persons over the age of 65 and those with high-risk medical conditions, I think we’re at the point where the word is stay at home,” he said.

Beaches in Miami-Dade and Broward counties will remain closed during the Fourth of July weekend. In Miami-Dade, hotel pools will close nightly at 8 p.m., and in-house dining at restaurants will close at midnight.

Thursday afternoon, Dr. Deborah Birx with the White House Coronavirus Task Force asked everyone under the age of 40, who may have taken part in a large gathering in June, to get tested for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms.

Wimberly’s family said his funeral has been set for July 11.

For a full breakdown of the cases in Florida, click here.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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