Tyler Fairley, who was unvaccinated, passed nine days after testing positive for COVID-19

A 17-year-old Georgia high school football player died of COVID-19 complications after he was sent home twice by the hospital where he sought care, according to the teenager’s parents.

Tyler Fairley, a student-athlete at Douglas County High School west of Atlanta, succumbed to the disease on Aug. 1 just over a week after testing positive for the virus. He did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

After receiving the test result on July 23, Fairley was taken to Wellstar Douglas Hospital in Douglasville, an Atlanta suburb, on two separate occasions, his mother, Tosha Nettles, told WGCL-TV. Fairley was discharged after being diagnosed with pneumonia on the first visit and was told to hydrate himself after a follow-up trip to the same hospital, she said.

“One of the male nurses told the other male nurse, ‘We can’t hurt ourselves trying to help him get in this car. We’ve got to go,’” the outlet quotes Nettles said. “And they let go of him and he fell flat on his face inside the back seat of my car. I was like, ‘Can you all observe him for a while? Because I said this is not him. He’s not talking, he’s not responding,’ and they were like, ‘He’s just in pain because of COVID.’”

Nettles and her husband then took Fairley to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in Sandy Springs, a city north of Atlanta, as reported by WSB-TV.

Doctors there say that Fairley was suffering from multiple seizures before dying on Aug. 1, the outlet reported.

Doctors at Wellstar Douglas Hospital expressed frustration that Fairley was not vaccinated, Nettles said.

“That could’ve been a conversation for another time. But not during the time my son was in distress,” Nettles said. “It was as if the doctor didn’t care because this was COVID and he didn’t prevent himself from having COVID because he wasn’t vaccinated.”

Fairley played on the Douglas County High School varsity football team and was described as a gentle giant in a graphic memorializing the athlete posted to Twitter. Fairley had earned a full scholarship to attend and play football at Morehouse College, as reported by WGCL-TV.

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“You will be MISSED,” the tweet caption from the school’s football Twitter page said. “Rest easy Tyler.”

Kenja Parks, principal of Douglas County High School, made a statement about Fairley’s death to WXIA-TV.

“Tyler was a shining light in our Tiger community,” Parks said. “He will always be remembered for his gentle spirit, his grace, his willingness to lend a helping hand, his academic excellence, and his athletic prowess. He was a model son, brother, scholar-athlete, and simply a joy to all who knew him.”

The state of Georgia is currently seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases.

As of Saturday, the average weekly rate of new cases is 4,446, according to the New York Times. That’s up from a weekly average of 475 last month. Only 39% of Georgia residents of all ages are fully vaccinated.

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