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COVID-19 Positive SHS Football Player in Pediatric ICU at Memorial

Jayden Keyshawn Parrish, known as Key by his friends is a 14-year-old freshman at Statesboro High School (SHS). On Thursday, August 27th, he came home from football conditioning and practice and was not feeling well.
Key Parrish SHS

Jayden Keyshawn Parrish, known as Key by his friends is a 14-year-old freshman at Statesboro High School (SHS).  On Thursday, August 27th,  he came home from football conditioning and practice and was not feeling well.  His mother, Ashley White, said he told her he just did not feel like himself.  She took his temperature and he had a low-grade fever.

During the night he became worse, so she kept him home from school that Friday.  By lunch on Friday, fever and chills had set in.  On Saturday morning, August 29th, he started throwing up and Ashley decided to take him to the emergency room at EGRMC.  They would not do a COVID-19 test on him, because they did not plan to admit him into the hospital.  The medical staff told her they only give COVID-19 tests to patients they were admitting.

They sent them home with some medications to recover.

Three Negative COVID-19 Test in 24 Hours

On Sunday, he was not getting better and was exhibiting all the classic signs of COVID-19.  Ashley’s “mother’s intuition” kicked in and she went online to schedule a COVID-19 test at the local health department.  The first available appointment was four or five days away.

Frustrated by this, Ashely called the DPH hotline.  They talked her though searching other counties around Bulloch for a COVID-19 test.  She kept searching and found an early appointment the next day (Monday, August 31) in Millen.

She drove him to Millen to get the test early Monday morning and had also scheduled an appointment with his Statesboro pediatrician for Monday afternoon.  Key was tested in Millen and told they would call or email with results in a few days.

The pediatrician’s office decided to test Key again in their office with hopes of getting the test back sooner.  After examining him, the FNP sent him to an outpatient lab for more lab work.

He was becoming short of breath so Ashley decided to take him back to the EGRMC ER.  They checked him again at the ER, wrote him a prescription for antibiotics and sent him home.  Key was not tested on the second visit to the ER for COVID-19.

Transported to Memorial Medical Center by Ambulance

Tuesday, September 1st, Key was much worse.  Key was now having trouble breathing and all his other symptoms were getting worse.  Ashley took him back to the emergency room at EGRMC for the third time.

This time, they agreed that something more was going on and decided to transfer him by ambulance to Savannah.  Since they were transporting him to Savannah, EGRMC agreed to do a rapid COVID-19 test. It was negative.

This was his third COVID-19 test in less than 24 hours, but the first one from which he had received a result.  Finally, however, the someone had agreed with Key’s mom, Ashley, that something was terribly wrong.

The ambulance service allowed Ashley to travel with Key to Memorial Medical Center in Savannah.  Upon admission to the hospital they doctor ordered the fourth COVID-19 rapid test.  It was positive.

Key was admitted into the pediatric ICU at Memorial that evening.  Five days after Key’s symptoms originally began, he was finally admitted into the hospital with a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.

Wednesday, September 2nd, Ashley received an email from the Millen Health Department stating that Key’s first test results were negative, which now made two negatives and one positive in test results.  On Wednesday afternoon the pediatrician’s office called to tell Ashley that their test also came back negative.

Key is now on day seven in the Pediatric ICU at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah.  He had his first good day today, which has given Ashley hope.  She said this has been a very frustrating and scary time for both her and Key.

Very Healthy Teenager with No Prior Health Issues

“I am sick and tired of hearing that children and teenagers can not get COVID-19 and if they do, it will not be that bad.  My son was a completely healthy, athletic young man with no pre-existing conditions”, said Ashley White.  “He has been extremely sick.  The doctors have diagnosed him now with COVID-19 induced Myocarditis.  They are telling me that he will not be able to go back to school or play sports for some time. He will have to continue to be treated by respiratory therapists and cardiologists for the next several months.”

Myocarditis in Athletes

The doctors explained that COVID-19 has attacked his immune and respiratory system and caused an enlargement of the heart.  This causes irregular heart rate and low blood pressure.  Key has also experienced slight damage to the liver.

Myocarditis appears to result from the direct infection of the virus attacking the heart, or possibly as a consequence of the inflammation triggered by the body’s overly aggressive immune response.

It is extremely dangerous for athletes diagnosed with Myocarditis to play competitive sports for at least three to six months, because of the risk of serious arrhythmia or sudden death, and several athletes from collegiate to professional levels have already have made the decision to heed those dire warnings.

According to a story in Georgia Health News, Myocarditis was the driving factor for two “Power Five’’ conferences – the Big Ten and Pac-12 – deciding to postpone football till the spring. Two other conferences, the Mid-American and Mountain West, have also opted not to play football this fall.

In the article, conference officials and athletic directors told ESPN that the uncertainty about the long-term effects of myocarditis has been discussed in meetings of presidents and chancellors, commissioners and athletic directors, and health advisory board members from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other conferences around the country.

Three Emory University physicians warned against playing football or other sports in the fall, especially in communities where there is substantial spread of COVID-19.

Yesterday, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health website,  Bulloch Counties 14 day average of positive cases per 100,000 is 1,154 and percent of positive tests is 23.6%.  (Anything above 100 per 100,000 and positive tests at above 5% are considered substantial spread).

According to ESPN Sunbelt rival to Georgia Southern, Georgia State’s quarterback Mikele Colasurdo was sidelined for the season because of a COVID-19 heart condition believed to also be myocarditis.

Bulloch Schools Report: 461 Quarantined

In Bulloch County Schools’ COVID-19 report on Friday evening, which includes the first three weeks of school, they are reporting a total of 50 known positive cases and 461 students, staff and administrators quarantined.  We understand that COVDI-19 positives reach pretty much every level of the school system, from administration to staff, teachers, coaches, and students.

Because of Key’s positive, his mother said 40 members of the SHS football team are in quarantine.

Long Road Ahead for Key

Ashley made the decision to stay by her son’s side at MMC.  However, this decision requires her to be quarantined with him until he is discharged from the hospital and is negative.  Ashley’s employer has been very generous, she said.  They paid her for the full week even though she did not have time accrued.  They are also working to help her apply for Family Medical Leave Act coverage.  This is a long process and it is her understanding you are required to be out of work for 30 days before it will kick in, and then at only 60% of her salary.

She does not know how long Key will be hospitalized, how long they will be required to quarantine, or how much time it will take to help him continue his therapy and treatments.

SHS and Community Stepping Up

Ashley has been so appreciative of the prayers and support of family, friends, and even strangers through social media, who have stepped up to help.  The Statesboro High School Athletic Booster Association was one of the first to reach out to help. “They have been incredibly supportive and helpful.  I am not sure what I would have done without this help.”

Ashley has not made a public plea for help, but I know many of you reading this will want to help.  The best way to help Key and Ashley is by giving through:

We reached out to Bulloch Board of Education for a comment and received this reply.  “It is against federal law for a public school district to provide medical information or comment about the medical condition of any student enrolled in its school district”.

We also reached out to East Georgia Regional Medical Center for comment.  Due to the holiday weekend, we have not received a response.  We will update the story, if EGRMC responds.