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Continued COVID precautions urged in wake of Suffolk girl's death

Like the Sperry family, a local doctor encourages everyone in the community to take the virus seriously.

VIRGINIA, USA — The news of Teresa Sperry’s death from COVID-19 leaves many in Hampton Roads heartbroken. In the medical community, it’s no different.

13News Now spoke with a local doctor who is pleading for continued precautions against the virus.

Dr. Rebekah Sensenig is an infectious disease specialist with Riverside Health System. She did not treat Teresa, the 10-year-old girl from Suffolk who died of COVID-19 complications Monday. But like many felt, learning the news was sobering.

“What really hit me about it is the idea that people are not statistics," said Dr. Sensenig.

Like the Sperry family, Dr. Sensenig encourages everyone in the community to take the virus seriously.

"Over and over, we hear people saying, well my child will be fine, my child doesn't have to wear a mask, the risk of dying is 0.001%. While that's true, that means nothing for this little girl and her family, because she passed away from this," said Dr. Sensenig.

RELATED: Girl from Suffolk dies from COVID-19 complications

There are lessons other families can learn from Teresa's death.

Health experts urge parents — especially ones with young children — to teach their kids proper mask wearing, frequent handwashing and sanitizing, as well as six feet of physical distancing.

"All those things can really help minimize our children getting sick," said Dr. Sensenig.

Teresa's parents told 13News Now everyone eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in the house received theirs. The 10-year-old wanted to but was too young get hers.

Right now, if you're at least 12 years old, Dr. Sensenig describes vaccination as "doing your part" in the community. 

"Just by doing that, you're less likely to spread it to other people like children, so they won't get sick and potentially die from illness," said Dr. Sensenig. "The hope is that vaccination for children will be available soon."

RELATED: Here's how soon Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids 5-11 may be available

Pfizer already submitted its data for ages 5 to 11. Health experts anticipate the company getting emergency use authorization from the FDA either late October or November.

The last known child to die from COVID-19 complications in Hampton Roads is Schwanda Corprew. The Norfolk 17-year-old passed away at home in late July, just days away from her vaccine appointment.