GCHD & ME’s Offices backtrack, now say they will not count 4-yr-old’s death as a COVID-19 death until autopsy completed

ME’s Office says it must first wait until completed autopsy

Thursday, the Galveston County Health District has said Kali was the first COVID-19 related death of a child in Galveston County. Medical examiners, also on Thursday, determined the cause of death was from COVID. However, Friday, both the Galveston County Health District and the Galveston Medical Examiner’s Officer said that they would not count Kali’s death as a Covid-19 death in the until the autopsy was completed.
Thursday, the Galveston County Health District has said Kali was the first COVID-19 related death of a child in Galveston County. Medical examiners, also on Thursday, determined the cause of death was from COVID. However, Friday, both the Galveston County Health District and the Galveston Medical Examiner’s Officer said that they would not count Kali’s death as a Covid-19 death in the until the autopsy was completed.

GALVESTON COUNTY – One Bacliff mother is warning other parents to take COVID seriously after a heartbreaking death.

Karra Harwood is missing her little girl, 4-year-old Kali Cook.

“She was amazing. She was beautiful, but not the kind that wanted bows in her hair. She’d rather be in the backyard catching frogs,” Harwood said.

Kali was full of life, with a spunky personality that was known around town.

“She lit up any room she walked in,” Harwood said.

However, Harwood said her message to parents is to be cautious and careful. Harwood is devastated. Kali tested positive for COVID-19, and within a day, she passed away in her sleep.

Harwood says she has tested positive for COVID-19 and her other children as well.

“I got tested for COVID and became positive. I tried to quarantine myself from them. We have a two-story home. They were upstairs and I was downstairs,” Harwood said.

With five children, Harwood said they did their best and stayed home.

“I just wanted everybody to know that it happened so fast,” Harwood said. “By 2 a.m. [Kali] started to run a fever. My mom came down and asked my fiancee if he could help her take some medicine. We gave her some medicine and by 7 a.m. she was gone.”

Harwood said the day before Kali seemed perfectly fine. However, COVID had already spread to her household.

“My 5-month-old baby even has it. I’ve taken him to the hospital every night since because I feel like they’re not getting better, and I’m terrified,” Harwood said.

Now, she is warning parents to keep a close eye on their children’s conditions and wear PPE.

“It’s serious, and we never could have believed this could happen,” Harwood said.

Thursday, the Galveston County Health District has said Kali was the first COVID-19 related death of a child in Galveston County. Medical examiners, also on Thursday, determined the cause of death was from COVID. However, Friday, both the Galveston County Health District and the Galveston Medical Examiner’s Officer said that they would not count Kali’s death as a Covid-19 death in the until the autopsy was completed. John Florence, the Lead Investigator at the Galveston Examiner’s Office confirmed that the autopsy began Friday at 1pm.

“So what I will tell you is that [the child] has Covid, but the actual cause of death is pending the autopsy and and all the tests that we ring in,” Florence said.

The Galveston County Health District and ME’s office released a joint statement:

An autopsy was conducted today by the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s office on the young child who passed away this week and tested positive for COVID-19.

We will not have the final cause of death until all results come back from today’s autopsy. We will update the public with more information as it becomes available.

Erin Barnhart, M.D.

Chief Medical Examiner, Galveston County

Philip Keiser, M.D.

Galveston County Local Health Authority

KPRC reached out to the Galveston County Chief Medical Examiner to determine why a cause of death was confirmed before the autopsy was completed and has yet to hear back.

KPRC also reached out to Kali’s mother who said Friday that she called the ME’s office and the office told Harwood something else.

“[They told me] she did die because of Covid, but they are doing an Autopsy to see if there are any underlying medical conditions that could have caused her to go so fast,” Harwood said.

Harwood said she also wanted to state her case.

“I did not murder my daughter,” Harwood said. “There are people getting vaccinated that are still getting Covid and they can still spread Covid.”

KPRC reached out to the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office who said they were investigating the death but saw no signs of foul play.

The Galveston County Local Health Authority said child deaths from COVID were not surprising because of the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

“Now we’re seeing our largest group of people with COVID is children under 10. So the fact that we’re getting more and more children under 10 getting COVID, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of them are getting sick. Some of them are getting in the hospital and some dying. So in that way, it’s not a surprise,” Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County Local Health Authority, said. “It’s very sad. It’s very sobering. I hope that this will be an opportunity for people to start putting away the anger that they have about COVID and realize that this is serious.”

As for Kali, Harwood said she is determined to keep her memory alive.

“No one could ever forget her, ever. She’ll never be forgotten,” Harwood said.

Harwood added that she wishes she would have taken COVID-19 more seriously. Her family was not vaccinated.

Loved ones created a GoFundMe for the family and for Kali’s funeral expenses.