A 5-year-old Georgia boy with no underlying health conditions has died from complications of COVID-19, his family has said.
Wyatt Gary Gibson of Calhoun, whose entire family contracted the coronavirus, succumbed on Friday to what loved ones called an extreme case of pneumonia and a stroke.
Wyatt died while being treated at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is survived by his parents, Wes and Alexis Gibson, and a nine-month-old sister, Alyssa.
All three tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It is unclear if the parents had been vaccinated.
Calhoun is the seat of Gordon County, where less than 40 percent of the area’s 58,000 residents have had at least one vaccine injection, according to the latest public health data.
Wyatt Gary Gibson, 5, of Calhoun, Georgia, died on Friday after contracting COVID-19
Wyatt suffered complications from COVID-19, including pneumonia and a stroke
He is survived by his parents, Wes and Alexis Gibson, and a nine-month-old sister, Alyssa. All three have tested positive for COVID-19
Wyatt’s father, Whitfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Wes Gibson, published a heartfelt post on Facebook paying tribute to his son.
‘My little buddy. My best friend. My helper,’ the bereaved father wrote.
‘Wyatt was nothing [but] joy and happiness. We loved having fun and going on adventures together.
‘He loved his momma and his sister so very much, and he was always looking for ways to help.’
Gibson added: ‘He loved to build things. Big things! And then he loved showing them to Alexis and me.
Wyatt died while being treated at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee
‘My little buddy. My best friend. My helper,’ West Gibson, the bereaved father, wrote on his Facebook page
‘He loved the horses and the dogs. He was full of love, and brightened everyone’s world,’ Wes Gibson wrote
‘Wyatt loved Rock City and The Tennessee Aquarium. He loved to play outside, help in the yard, and help with the horses.
‘He loved the horses and the dogs. He was full of love, and brightened everyone’s world.
‘Wyatt would wave to strangers in the grocery store, because he knew that it absolutely made their day.
‘In a way I know that you’re still here, but I miss you so damn much! I wish this was one adventure that you did not start…
‘I have lost my best friend.’
On Saturday, Wyatt’s mother also wrote a post in honor of her late son.
‘There are no words….he was my “all days every days”,’ she wrote.
‘Wyatt was nothing but pure love and the perfect overload of happiness.
‘We see you everywhere we look Bitty Wy and I still feel you holding my hand.
‘I know you’re here with us, and thank you for guiding us home yesterday with those 5 beautiful rainbows, each one bigger than the last.
‘God’s got you building all kinds of things already.’
Amanda Summey, the boy’s godmother, launched a GoFundMe to help the family cover medical expenses.
As of Wednesday, the crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $30,000.
Wyatt is seen right with his father, Whitfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Wes Gibson
On Saturday, Wyatt’s mother, Alexis, also wrote a post in honor of her late son. ‘There are no words….he was my “all days every days”,’ she wrote
The number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Georgia has risen substantially over the past few weeks, mirroring a national trend that has public health experts worried.
It is extremely rare for a child that young to die of COVID-19.
According to state public health data, of the 18,600 Georgians who have died of the disease, 11 were children. Nationwide, 600,000 have died of COVID-19. Of those, 335 were under the age of 18.
There currently are no authorized vaccines for children under the age of 12.
Summey said that when Wyatt got sick, the family initially thought it was just food poisoning.
‘A day, two. No appetite, a little vomiting, a bit lethargic,’ the boy’s maternal grandmother, Andrea Mitchell, wrote in a statement to the Journal-Constitution.
‘He’d barely had more than the sniffle or two as prior illnesses go. Then the white tongue.
‘Alarmed, he was hustled off to the local hospital. Then the next day to TC Thompson Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga, TN.’
Doctors diagnosed Wyatt with strep and staph infections as well as COVID-19.
Like many other parts of the country, Georgia has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases in recent weeks
The state’s seven-day average of new cases stood at more than 803 on Tuesday, up from 365 on June 25
‘We’d been so careful this whole time for it to find us now?’ Mitchell said.
‘He was fighting for his very life. His mother, up for four days, never leaving between cajoling him to keep moving and fighting and begging him to stay.’
Mitchell added: ‘His father, the backbone of the family, coughing from COVID now himself, stood beside in silent worry, beyond believing what he was seeing. Then it ended.
‘On July 16, 2021 at 12:05 p.m., Wyatt died. A massive stroke struck the soul of his brain.’
The state’s seven-day average of new cases stood at more than 803 on Tuesday, up from 365 on June 25.
Some 945 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 while about 260 others had suspected cases.
A month ago, there were 423 people hospitalized with COVID, according to state data.
Both numbers are nowhere near January peaks, when the seven-day average topped 9,000.
But health experts said they show the need for more people to get vaccinated, particularly with the rise of the fast-spreading Delta variant of the virus.
Georgia has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. There currently are no vaccines authorized for children under the age of 12
Less than half of Georgia residents have received at least one dose of the two-dose vaccine, according to public health data
The rate of vaccination in Georgia has declined in recent weeks – mirroring a trend in the rest of the country
Around 40 percent of Georgia residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the latest data
Georgia, a state whose population stands at around 10.8 million, is currently vaccinating residents at a rate of just a few thousand per month
Just 40 percent of Georgia residents are fully vaccinated, well below the rate in many other states.
The combination of a fairly low vaccination rate, the highly transmissible Delta variant and a general relaxation in mask requirements and other precautions is a ‘recipe for a potential tinderbox,’ said Sarah McCool, a professor in public health at Georgia State University.
McCool said she wants to see whether the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to increase at the same pace over the next week or two, but the rise she’s seen so far is ‘certainly concerning.’
Other places in the country facing similar increases in COVID-19 cases have urged even vaccinated people to resume wearing masks in public.
Mississippi officials have recommended that people 65 and older and those with chronic underlying conditions stay away from large indoor gatherings because of a 150 percent rise in hospitalizations over the past three weeks.