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'We can not wait to sound the alarm bells,' says Cook Children's doctor amid increase in child deaths during coronavirus quarantine

Doctors are concerned about the number of child abuse deaths and hospitalizations reported in last month

FORT WORTH, Texas — Some doctors and child advocates are sounding the alarm on child abuse cases during shelter-in-place orders. 

Since they went into effect in Fort Worth, doctors are seeing a spike in cases at Cook Children's Medical Center. 

"So for us in a month, we have had three deaths from child abuse and had eight admissions into the hospital with serious physical abuse," said Dr. Jayme Coffman.

Among the deaths is 3-year-old Amari Boone. 

RELATED: 3-year-old Fort Worth boy dies from 'severe child abuse' Easter morning

Police said Boone was killed. His grandmother spoke to WFAA by phone.

"He had been beaten, two broken arms, 10 broke fingers and had a fractured skull, bleeding in the brain and he never breathed since he got to the hospital," said Laymon Kiceshi, grandmother.

The little boy was in CPS custody and living with a friends of the family when it happened.

A judge agreed to putting him there, but his grandmother says she had noticed bruises on him a month ago during a visit and was concerned.

"He had already been beaten on the right side of his face and he had bruises on his chest," said Kiceshi.

As Fort Worth police and CPS investigate the case, doctors at Cook Children's are growing concerned.

"Usually when we see deaths from abuse they are infants, but these are all toddlers that have been killed," said Dr. Coffman.

So, it is raising the question, are the shelter-in-places orders leading to more child abuse?

"I don't think we have a good handle on it yet, but I don't think we can wait to sound the alarms bells," said Dr. Coffman.

Child advocacy groups say the number of cases are actually down because children are not seeing the people who typically report cases like pediatricians, clergy and teachers.

"We don't know what we don’t know, but I think it's imperative as a community that we reach out to families with children to make sure they are not feeling the stress and anger, and taking it out on their children," said Dr. Coffman.

Boone's grandmother says she wishes more had been done to help save her grandson and prays for the safety of other children whose voices can't be heard.

Fort Worth police have not made an arrest in the case.

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