BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Daryana Dyson may be Maryland’s youngest victim of COVID-19.

The 15-year-old first knew something was wrong when she lost her sense of taste. On Mother’s Day, she headed to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she was put on a ventilator. She died Saturday.

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Baltimore County officials confirmed her death was linked to coronavirus Tuesday. Daryana had the pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, known as Kawasaki disease, which doctors have been linking to coronavirus.


WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren spoke to her mother and aunt. The heartbroken family is making funeral arrangements.

“This is real,” her aunt said. “I didn’t think it was just so dangerous until this situation. She was healthy. No pre-existing nothing. We want everybody to know that she was just courageous, independent.”

Daryana’s loved ones also want people to know that young people are susceptible.

“Stay home because once you’re gone, you can’t come back. There’s no coming back. People are going to mourn you for a while then that’s it. You’re just a memory,” her aunt said. 

Neighbor Nathanya Campbell echoed that sentiment.

“I know the family is devastated,” Campbell said.

For Dyson’s family, the death of someone so young — one month away from her 16th birthday — is a wake-up call to everyone.

“She was loved. Period. She had a heart of gold,” her aunt said.

One of Daryana’s friends, Bri, said she had known her since birth.

“She is one of those kids you can never forget about. If you are down, she’ll have you smiling, like she always does it,” Bri said.

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Daryana was one of the only young people Bri trusted to watch her own kids. She originally thought Daryana had come down with a severe cold; she didn’t imagine losing her close friend.

A candlelight vigil in her memory is set for Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the O’Donnell Heights community. The family urged people to social distance during the vigil to celebrate her life.

The teen’s death is not reflected in the numbers released by the state Monday morning. Maryland is reporting nearly 40,000 coronavirus cases in the state and more than 1,900 deaths.

Latest: Nearly 40K COVID-19 Cases In Maryland, Hospitalizations Still Down

The good news is hospitalizations remain down for the third straight week.

Gov. Larry Hogan lifted the statewide stay at home order at 5 p.m. Friday and moved the state into phase 1 of its recovery plan. However, Baltimore City, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties chose to remain under their own stay at home orders as they continue to see their COVID-19 numbers increase.

Police used loudspeakers to disperse large crowds in the city over the weekend. They responded to more than 120 calls for illegal get-togethers.

In Patterson Park, a banner went up thanking health care workers. Mayor Jack Young echoed those sentiments while speaking at an event during which Baltimore’s archbishop blessed police headquarters.

“I want to give thanks to all of our first responders and front-line workers who continue to serve the city and its residents in this great adversity. We sincerely appreciate all of you,” Young said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.