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High school junior is first Wisconsin teenager to die from Covid-19, officials say

NBC News logo NBC News 11/30/2020 David K. Li and Ali Gostanian and Sandra Lilley
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A Wisconsin teenager died from complications of Covid-19, officials said Monday, in another tragic first for the pandemic-ravaged state.

Isai Morocho was an 11th-grader at East High School and his death marks a "tremendous loss" for the Madison Metropolitan School District, a schools spokesman said.

"All of MMSD is heartbroken to learn of the passing of an East High School student due to Covid-19 related causes," the district said in a statement on Monday.

"Our community has lost a wonderful young person, and when a school family experiences a tragedy, especially the loss of a young life, it deeply impacts all of us. In the days ahead, MMSD will be focused on providing our students, families and staff the support needed in order to help them process this tremendous loss."

The 16-year-old, who died on Wednesday, was active in his school's drama club, aspired to be a baker someday and was close to his brother and sister, aunt Maria Santa Cruz told NBC News on Monday.

"He was very smart and dedicated to his buddies. He was a loving brother and loving son," Santa Cruz said. "He did everything for his brother and his sister."

Doctors diagnosed him with Covid-19 with post-mortem blood and toxicology tests, according to the family. He'd initially tested negative for coronavirus, so doctors chalked up his vomiting and diarrhea to a nasty case of stomach flu, loved ones said.

When the teen died, he was sitting in a chair, eating a cracker and surrounded by family members.

"'I'm scared, papi, I'm scared,' " the boy's father Milton Morocho told local Spanish-language news outlet "Miwisconsin Latinos," quoting his son's final words. "'I'm sorry.' "

Morocho's death had not yet been recorded in official Dane County or state counts by Monday afternoon.

But when it is, he'll be "the first teenager in Dane County to die from Covid, as well as the first teenager in Wisconsin" to pass from the virus, according to Christy Vogt, a health education coordinator for Public Health Madison & Dane County.

Campuses of the Madison Metropolitan School District have been closed since March and all instruction this fall has been done online.

Aside from Morocho, no other student, faculty or staffer from the district has died from Covid-19, according to the district.

Wisconsin is among many states struggling to contain the virus' spread this fall. More than 13.9 percent of state residents testing for the virus have come back positive over the past seven days, according to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Only 18 states and Puerto Rico have a worse, rolling positivity rate.

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