Teen cancer survivor dies after coronavirus diagnosis as Kentucky sees surge in illnesses

Alexa Rose Viet died from complications to COVID-19

A 15-year-old cancer survivor who was born with Down syndrome died on Sunday, just weeks after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Alexis Rose Veit, of Ballard County, began feeling ill on Oct. 26, according to a Facebook post written by Travis Holder, director of Ballard County Emergency Management, and was diagnosed after a routine COVID-19 test taken ahead of an upcoming procedure.

Veit’s mother was diagnosed with the virus hours after the teen, and her older sister had recently recovered from it. At some point during her diagnosis, the teen’s grandparents also were diagnosed with the virus. Veit’s mother was hospitalized shortly after their diagnosis and placed on a ventilator, only for the teen to follow days later, according to Holder. She was then flown to Nashville after developing pneumonia.

“As Alexa was hospitalized in Nashville, with her older sister Kelley by her side, who just recently recovered from COVID-19 herself, Alexa’s health continued to decline and was eventually placed on a ventilator to help her breathe,” Holder wrote, in part. “It was then determined that the doctors had done all that they could do for Alexa and the decision was made that they needed to get her mother to Nashville.”

Her mother was released from the hospital and taken to Nashville on Nov. 14, and the teen died the next day.

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“Alexa was 15 years old, granted she did have pre-existing health conditions, but she was 15 years old,” Holder wrote. “I am telling you this because we have got to come to the realization that this is real. This is not political, it’s nothing that has ‘always been here,’ it is real. We must start taking the precautions seriously. There is not anything that we can do to get rid of COVID-19, but it is our duty as citizens to do everything that we can to reduce the spread to our fellow man.”

The teen, who entered remission from leukemia in August 2019, is being remembered as a “social butterfly.” Her death marks the first school-aged fatality in the state, according to Holder.

“Alexa was and is a beautiful child of God,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear tweeted on Friday. “This is such a heartbreaking loss, and we are so sorry it happened to her and her family. Our commitment is to do better. So today and every day, I wear my mask for Alexa and I hope you will, too. #MaskUpky”

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Veit’s death comes amid a surge in coronavirus illnesses and hospitalizations in Kentucky. Beshear asked religious leaders on Thursday to move to virtual services for the coming weeks, and has mandated additional restrictions such as closing many schools until the New Year, limiting social gatherings and ridding of indoor dining.

The state currently has a positivity rate of 9.18%, and has seen over 148,390 cases and 1,742 deaths. Officials reported more than 3,600 new cases and 30 deaths on Thursday alone.

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