Ryan Dupree

A photo of Ryan Dupree and his girlfriend tops the GoFundMe page seeking donations for his funeral expenses after the Shorter University assistant basketball coach died of COVID-19 complications. 

Family friends of a young Shorter University assistant coach who died from COVID-19 complications have set up an account to help with funeral expenses.

Ryan Dupree, 24, who started recently as an assistant basketball coach at the Rome university, died at Floyd Medical Center from pneumonia brought on by the virus. Hometown Headlines reported his illness and death happened in just the span of two days.

“Thankfully his mom got to be with him in his last moments here on this earth,” wrote organizer Morgan Weidemann on the GoFundMe page titled “Support for Ryan Dupree’s Family.”

Shorter spokesperson Dawn Tolbert issued the following statement:

“The Shorter University family was saddened to learn of the tragic death of Coach Ryan Dupree. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. Our prayers are with them and the basketball team in this time of loss.”

Dupree’s death came the same week as the death of a 13-year-old Coosa boy — mute confirmation of local medical professionals’ warnings that the fast-spreading Delta variant is striking a younger demographic.

In Floyd County, 255 people have now died from COVID-19 according to the Georgia Department of Public Health Daily Status Report.

Five of those deaths occurred in the first four days of this month, and the forecast is for grimmer days ahead.

During a presentation last week to Rome City and Floyd County officials, chief medical officers from the three local hospitals said the recent massive influx of patients means a spike in deaths is likely to follow in two to four weeks.

As of Friday, 15,495 local residents had been infected with COVID-19 — more than 1 in every 7 people of every age — according to the DPH. And surviving the disease often comes with its own set of problems.

Health experts are concerned about the long-term effects, especially on children, and the extent to which even undiagnosed students are spreading the virus.

In Alabama, Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers, a pediatrician, said the Delta variant is having a more prolonged impact on some infected school-age children than earlier versions of the virus.

Landers said children with long COVID have complications such as brain fog, inability to concentrate, sleeping issues and fatigue.

“Last year, kids did well with COVID-19 and didn’t have to be hospitalized,” Landers said at a news conference Thursday. “This year 6-to-10% of kids may have long COVID.”

Wes Tomlinson of The Decatur Daily in Alabama contributed to this report.

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