His family says a COVID-19 test came back negative, but that a coroner is performing more tests to determine if their son's death was caused by the virus

By Claudia Harmata
July 20, 2020 03:17 PM
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A 13-year-old boy from Claremont, California, suddenly died on Thursday after weeks of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, per several reports.

Maxx Cheng first began experiencing symptoms of the virus on the Fourth of July. His family told both ABC News and CBS Los Angeles that a COVID-19 test came back negative, but that they still believe the virus could have caused his death.

“His symptoms matched, but then the test came out negative,” Charlotte Cheng, his sister, told CBS. “So we were a little bit confused.”

Even though the test was negative, Maxx continued to self-isolate in his room due to the continued symptoms. When his family went to go check in on him last week, they found him unconscious in his room.

"We went to go check up on him, like we normally do,” Charlotte explained. “He wasn’t answering. We found him passed out in the room.”

According to his family, Maxx experienced "nausea, vomiting, chest pains," but his symptoms had seemed to improve in the days leading up to his death.

“There was almost no cough,” Charlotte said. “The fever had gone down three days before he passed.”

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News of Maxx's death sent shockwaves through his community, and a GoFundMe has been set up to help cover the costs of funeral arrangements.

"It's very, very shocking, saddening, paralyzing," said Nicole Weinstein, a family friend told ABC. "The minute I heard, it was like a huge bright light had been extinguished. He had so much charisma, so much positive energy. He was class president last year."

Any additional funds raised will be put towards a college fund for Maxx's twin brother, Leo.

"Maxx Cheng was one of Claremont's finest young men who was recently lost during this pandemic," the fundraiser reads. "Maxx was athletic, intelligent, funny, and mature and was voted Class President of Chaparral Elementary before heading off to El Roble. He played the viola with El Roble’s orchestra, was part of El Roble's Speech and Debate team and competed in swimming (photo here at his recent competition)."

A coroner is currently working on an autopsy report to determine Maxx’s cause of death, and is running additional tests to determine if his death was caused by the virus. The report is expected in the coming days.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.