Florida Teen's COVID-Related Death 'Just Happened Out of Nowhere': Brother

A Florida teen passed away from COVID-19 days before beginning her senior year of high school, and her family said it was incredibly sudden.

Jo'Keria Graham was 17 years old and a student at Columbia High School. Her brother, Jaylen Brown, said her death "just happened out of nowhere."

"I mean, it started off like any other normal day. She asked my grandparents to bring something to eat. There weren't really any signs," Brown told news station WCJB.

Columbia County students went back to school on Wednesday, but Graham had contracted the virus before school started. Brown said his sister was preparing to miss the first day of school as she was still in quarantine.

According to Brown, Graham was healthy and took precautions against the virus, including wearing a mask. He shared that she was not vaccinated.

"You honestly couldn't tell that she was sick," Brown said.

The principal at Columbia High School, Trey Hosford, said that he has been in contact with the family.

"I've spoken to the mom multiple times throughout the week, just kind of letting her know we are thinking and praying for her and offering support," Hosford told WJCB.

He said that the school community will be there for the family, and then explained that he has been encouraging eligible people to get vaccinated and wear a mask.

Graham will be honored on graduation night for the class of 2022.

Her death comes as schools begin to open up and pediatric cases of COVID-19 in Florida continue to spike.

White House Pandemic Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said that over the past week, Florida has reported more COVID-19 cases than 30 other states with the lowest case rates, combined.

And hospitals are struggling to find staff as more and more hospitalizations take place throughout the state. Lee Health, one of Florida's largest public health systems, took to its Twitter account in order to share what's happening inside the hospital.

"Before the current outbreak in our community, we were averaging no more than 1 to 2 kids with COVID in the hospital per day," the tweet said.

Tami Anderson, a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) registered nurse said in the video on Twitter, "It's getting exhausting. It's emotionally draining, it's physically draining, it's spiritually draining. Some of these kids are sick and they're suffering."

The health care workers in the video used the opportunity to encourage people who are eligible to get inoculated.

Dr. Michelle Hoffman, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at the hospital, said, "it just breaks your heart that children are suffering from this and that in many ways it could be preventable."

Lee Health staff at the end of the video said, "Do it for yourself, our kids and the community."

Newsweek reached out to the Florida Department of Health for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

A 17-year-old senior in high school passed away from COVID-19 days before the start of school. A health care worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a young woman during a vaccination event hosted by Miami Heat at FTX Arena in Miami, on August 5, 2021. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images