The Loudoun community is rallying around a Leesburg family following the flu-related death of 16-year-old KatieGiovanniello.
The Heritage High School sophomore died early Friday morning, six days after being diagnosed with Influenza B. She was taken to the Inova Loudoun Hospital on Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest at her home and then transported to Inova Children’s Hospital in Fairfax. She did not regain consciousness. The cause of death has not been officially confirmed.
Katie’s mother, Colette, is urging other parents not to underestimate the virus. “Don’t ever take it for granted. If I could do one thing, I would have never even taken her home Sunday,” she told NBC Washington in an interview.
Her classmates were notified about Katie’s unexpected death on Friday in a notice from PrincipalJeff Adams.Grief counselors were brought in to meet with students and the school cancelled a pep rally and dance planned during the weekend. On Tuesday,the students were encouraged to wear green, Katie’s favorite color, to school in her memory.
A GoFundMe page has been established to support Katie’s mother and two sisters. As of Tuesday morning, nearly $12,000 had been raised.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, influenza is widespread in the commonwealth. The highest percentage of cases are in central and eastern Virginia, with kids aged 0-4 and 5-18 making up most of the cases. According to the most recent report, for the week ending Feb. 1, the flu had been widespread for 10 weeks, and reached that threshold five weeks earlier than last year’s flu season. Last year, widespread flu continued into April.