CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The parents of a 4-year-old boy who died after a toddler used condoms to get infected with the highly contagious viral respiratory disease coronavirus have called on Charlotte officials to refund $7.2 million in charitable benefits awarded in the boy’s name.
Dr. Dan Belisle said Friday that the family wants the state to refund $3.2 million in funding to study the children’s condition and $4.4 million in allocations to the generosity fund established after the boy’s death.
Charlotte health commissioner Bill Nettles, who oversees the Community Foundation for Greater Charlotte, promised to talk with community members and families affected by the so-called “Chocolate City” program, in which they volunteered at local food and toy donation sites.“This has not been a smooth process,” Nettles said at the Monday morning news conference at the hospital where the boy died. “It has been the darkest day in our city’s history.”
Six to 10 percent of the health department’s staff were mistakenly told the death of the boy was caused by the virus, he said. The first misidentification involved where the boy was found and what he was wearing.
Chocolate City volunteers filled out forms saying the boy died of coronavirus and were told he wasn’t infected with the virus, Nettles said. But the 4-year-old, who attended Twin Lakes Elementary School, wasn’t found to have tested positive for the virus.
Nettles said the only additional volunteers were for victims of other viral diseases, which were more appropriate.
The city pays $300,000 per year in charitable contributions and about $2.8 million per year for the Community Foundation, which offers $9 million in loans to nonprofit organizations in Greater Charlotte, and $1.5 million in health department grants to candidates who serve on health commissions.
Nettles said all money in the community foundation will be put toward oversight of the program.“We can’t wait forever,” Nettles said. “We are taking a precautionary approach, but we have to act now. We can’t wait to see the results.”