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Teenage dependent was positive for COVID-19 at time of death, Fort Sill says

The 13-year-old dependent of a service member assigned to Fort Sill was the first school-aged death related to COVID-19 in Oklahoma, according to post officials and the state health department.

The dependent and the family were not identified. The teenager died late Friday evening at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, miles from post, and tested positive for COVID-19.

Fort Sill announced the death in a press release, but did not say whether the child’s death was attributed to COVID-19. State health officials separately announced the death as the “first COVID-19-related death of a school-aged child.”

Post officials did not return a request for comment Monday asking whether the dependent had any pre-existing conditions.

“Our entire Lawton Fort Sill community is deeply saddened. Our greatest condolences go out to the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this difficult and sad time,” Maj Gen. Ken Kamper, Fort Sill’s commander, said in a statement.

The dependent’s family was notified of the positive COVID-19 test result and are currently in isolation at their on-post residence, according to Fort Sill. The Reynolds Army Health Clinic is helping county officials conduct contact tracing on the installation.

“No further information will be released about the dependent to respect the family and comply with Defense Department guidance,” the release reads.

More than 4,100 service members have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 1, according to the Pentagon’s latest statistics reported by Military Times Friday. That is a rise of about 33 percent in the last 10 days and is more than twice the rate of growth nationwide during the same period.

Military officials attributed the spike in military cases to increased testing and to the lifting of shelter-in-place orders in some areas.

Following Oklahoma’s first COVID-19-related school-aged death, the state’s superintendent, Joy Hofmeister, urged people to wear masks and help “do their part to contain the spread” of the virus.

“This heartbreaking tragedy underscores how important it is for us all to wear masks when in public, follow social distancing guidelines and practice good hygiene,” Hofmeister said in a statement.

“Students need to learn. We want schools to reopen this fall, but for that to happen, it is critical that Oklahomans take decisive actions now to mitigate spread of the virus,” Hofmeister added. “Wearing a mask around other people is a small sacrifice for the sake of literally saving lives.”

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