Nov. 4, 2020 -- A 20-year-old college student was found dead in her dorm room last week after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The family of Bethany Nesbitt, a psychology major at Grace College in Winona Lake, IN, says she was quarantined for 10 days before she died from a pulmonary embolism, which is usually caused by a blood clot in the lung.

“Our hearts are shattered,” her brother shared on Twitter. “My sweet sister, Bethany, died as she slept in her dorm room Thursday night. She was 20. She was COVID-19 positive. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism -- from a blood clot -- widely recognized as a common cause of death in COVID-19 patients.”

After an autopsy, Kosciusko County Coroner Tony Ciriello confirmed that the virus played a part in Nesbitt’s death, but it wasn’t the sole cause. “The cause of death has been ruled natural due to a pulmonary embolus that had not been previously detected,” he reported. “While COVID did play a role in contributing to the death, it was not caused by COVID.”

Nesbitt’s family says she was first tested for the virus on Oct. 22 after having symptoms, but she never got the results back due to a clerical error. Still, she self-quarantined and, because she had asthma, constantly checked her oxygen levels. Later that week, she noticed her levels had dropped, so she went to the hospital to make sure everything was all right. There, a doctor told her that she very likely had COVID-19 -- but it didn’t seem to be a severe case, so she went back to her dorm.

At first, she felt better. On Oct. 28, she told her family that her fever was gone and that her oxygen levels were returning to normal. But then things took a turn. She died 2 days later, nearly a week after her symptoms started.

“We speak out not to spread fear, but to encourage others to exercise enormous caution as COVID-19 cases continue to rise,” Nesbitt’s family said in a statement. “Please don’t assume that young people will not be impacted by this virus. Bethany was careful. She wore her mask. She socially distanced. We urge you to follow health officials’ protocols and precautions.”

The Nesbitts also urged people to avoid large gatherings this holiday season. “The risks of gathering in large groups aren’t worth it this year,” they warned. “There will be an empty seat at our table the next time our family comes together -- and every time after that. This loss is forever. We plead with you to take this virus seriously. And we pray for your health and safety in this holiday season.”

WebMD Health News Brief


Twitter: @stephenjnesbitt, Nov. 3, 2020.

Grace College: “Grace College Provides Update on Bethany Nesbitt Death.”

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