Doctors suspect death of 16-year-old boy from suburban Chicago may be linked to COVID-19

WHEELING, Ill. -- A Northwest suburban school district confirmed two student cases of suspected COVID-19; one student died, and the other remains in intensive care.

Zach Leviton, 16, is the Wheeling student who died. His family said his symptoms weren’t what you’d expect from the coronavirus. His test, in fact, came back negative, but doctors aren’t sure, so the case is still being investigated by state health officials as possible COVID-19.

Like many who are 16, Zach Leviton had his permit. His mom said he was excited to get his driver’s license. What set this Wheeling High School student apart were his values, which are being remembered by friends and family online.

Some of the comments call Leviton “a genuine person that could make me laugh,” “kind and such a sweetheart.” One classmate said she’ll remember him like this, “I wasn’t the type of student to ask a question in class, and as soon as Zach realized this, he started asking the questions for me.”

If Leviton's death is confirmed as a COVID-19 case, he would be the first Illinois teenager to die from  complications due to coronavirus. In March, COVID-19 took the life of an infant in Illinois. Both cases would be rare occurrences.

“Obviously, a 2-year-old and a 17-year-old are all considered pediatric patients, but we know that the 17-year-old has the physiology much closer to an adult than, say, an infant, or a baby, so former hospitals and pediatricians I’ve talked to, they have seen severe illness in older pediatric patients, as they look more like adults than babies,” said Illinois Department of Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

“A dark week in District 214 that leaves me with an incredibly heavy heart. We will continue to move forward to see the sunrise again one day; however, this week in our District is marked by pain and sadness,” said Superintendent Dr. David Schuler in a letter to parents.

One other student in District 214 remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit at an unnamed hospital, with COVID-19-like symptoms.