NORFOLK, Va. - Many people in the Hampton Roads community are heartbroken after a 17-year-old girl died of complications from COVID-19 in Norfolk.
Schwanda Corprew was the youngest kid in her family, and at 17 years old, her mom, Sherell Corprew, said her daughter was eager to learn how to drive, was good with electronics and had dreams of going to college.
She said Scwhanda started complaining of headaches on Tuesday and she died Friday at 7 p.m.
“I didn’t think she had COVID, either. When I left her, she was asleep,” said Sherell.
The Norfolk teen died from complications due to COVID-19, according to state health officials. The Virginia Department of Health confirmed that this is the first child death from the virus in the Eastern region of the state.
“She kept saying she had headaches, but I just took it as a common headache - I didn’t think nothing of it. I gave her an aspirin,” said Sherell.
She said her daughter attended the camp Teens with a Purpose in Norfolk.
They issued a statement to us about the situation:
Teens With a Purpose(TWP) is deeply saddened to learn that a youth has passed on. We are devastated and send our prayers and condolences to the family.
Right now and always our focus is on youth and doing all we can to make sure they have the support and resources they need. TWP has worked with the Health Department to arrange COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Events for the surrounding community.
We want to stress a message Governor Northam shared:
Summary from his statement: Delta is different from the COVID-19 strain we were dealing with last year. It makes people sicker, faster, and is more contagious than previous strains. The only way we can beat this virus is with vaccination. Nearly every single person who has died from COVID-19 has been unvaccinated.
We have been at the forefront of helping youth and families throughout the pandemic since March. We will continue to be a rock for our community and youth.
A representative from Teens with a Purpose said the camp had been shut down since July 27 after another girl tested positive for the virus. They have suspended operations until further notice.
There is a vaccination event at Purpose Park from 2-3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 11.
Camp representatives said they have been working to encourage people to get tested for months. They said they also contacted all the parents of the children who attended the camp.
Licensed psychotherapist Dr. Sarah Williams, the found of Covenant Way Wellness, said this tragic situation can impact the hearts of many throughout the region.
“Every emotion you're experiencing right now is normal. It is important in our community to normalize that shared experience of grief. It can occur in stages, shock, disbelief, anger, and all of the above are related when you have a tragedy, particularly impacting our most vulnerable, which is our children,” said Dr. Williams.
“I never pictured burying my child, my baby at that. [It's] too much,” said Sherell.
“We extend our condolences to the family and friends of this child at this time of great loss,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “COVID-19 has taken thousands of lives from us, and every death is a tragedy. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. As we have seen in recent weeks, a COVID variant, the Delta variant, spreads more easily from one person to another. We have made progress in these past months against this virus, but a tragic event like the death of this young child is a stark reminder that our work is not done.”
Below is more information from the state health department on how to reduce your risk of contracting and spreading the virus:
To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, VDH encourages everyone to:
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you or your children. To locate a free vaccine near you, click here.
- Wear a mask in indoor public settings, even if you are fully vaccinated. Virginia is currently experiencing high levels of COVID-19 spread.
- Practice physical distancing. Maintain at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others.
- Avoid large gatherings, crowds, and indoor spaces with poor ventilation (airflow).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in public spaces; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, get tested.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.