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A father from Kentucky is mourning the loss of his 15-year-old son, who died of COVID-19 this weekend.
High school student Justin Cline died on Sept. 5 after spending almost a month in a Louisville hospital, his loved ones told the Lexington Herald-Leader. He tested positive for COVID-19 just days before he was to start the first day of the new school year.
On Sunday evening, Justin's father, George Cline, announced the loss of his son with a heartbreaking post to social media.
"Heaven just gained the best angle it's ever got," Cline wrote on Facebook. "They pulled the tube out and he pasted a few minutes later. He didn't have to suffer. Thanks to everyone that reached out today. Sorry for the ones that has called and I didn't answer."
Just hours before, Cline said Justin's lungs had "holes in them" and were "messed up."
In an interview with the Herald-Leader, Cline said Justin became infected around the time he and others in the family's circle showed symptoms of the disease.
Neither Justin nor his father received a COVID-19 shot, and Cline said he was waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to approve the vaccinations before receiving them. On Aug. 23, the FDA granted full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Cline now says he will receive the vaccine, warns that other holdouts will likely change their minds when they see the harm the virus can cause.
"I'm going to go take my vaccine," Cline said, adding that he believes people should still make their own choice about receiving the vaccine or not. "I'm going to do my part ... As bad as it sounds, once it affects them personally, then they'll change their minds."
Cline is also an advocate for wearing masks to slow the virus' spread, he told the outlet.
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Doyle Manley, a family friend who spent time visiting Justin in the hospital, echoed Cline's sentiments,
"People just need to see it," he told the newspaper. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody, but they've got to understand the gravity of the situation and what could happen."
As obituary for Justin describes him as a teenager who loved music, playing drums and swimming. The family will be holding services for him on Saturday.
"He was happy all the time," Cline told the Herald-Leader.
As of Thursday, a total of 654,061 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States, according to The New York Times database.
On average, there are about 148,563 new infections each day, which is a 2-percent drop over the last two weeks. About 53 percent of the country is fully vaccinated, while 63 percent have received at least one dose, the Times said.