Over the weekend, the realities of the coronavirus pandemic once again hit hard due to the tragic death of 5-year-old Skylar Herbert.
According to The Detroit News, Herbert complained of a bad headache a month ago. Then on Sunday, after being hooked to a ventilator for two weeks, Herbert passed away. The Detroit girl tested positive for COVID-19 in March and eventually developed a rare form of meningitis and brain swelling.
“We decided to take her off the ventilator today because her improvement had stopped, the doctors told us that it was possible she was brain dead, and we basically just knew she wasn’t coming back to us,” explained LaVondria Herbert, Skylar’s mother, on Sunday.
Skylar is the daughter of Detroit first responders and the first kid with COVID-19 to die in Michigan. Until now, the youngest person on record to pass away with COVID-19 was 20 years old, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Skylar’s early symptoms didn’t suggest that she contracted the coronavirus.
Ebbie and LaVondria Herbert took Skylar to the pediatrician on March 23 for her headache that wouldn’t go away with pain medication. This is when Skylar tested positive for strep throat and her doctor sent her home to rest and prescribed her antibiotics.
“She had been crying all night and saying the headache would not go away,” said LaVondria Herbert, 46.
“We called the doctor back, and they told us that it takes the medication 48 hours to kick in and to give it some time, but because she was crying so bad, I told my husband we needed to take her to emergency because I just didn’t know.”
Skylar’s parents took her to Beaumont Royal Oak, and the doctors tested her for COVID-19, which came back positive the following day. They said the headache and mild fever were side effects of the virus. A day later, Skylar was released, however, the family was back at a hospital six hours later.
“We went back to emergency at the Beaumont Hospital’s Farmington campus because I noticed my husband was coughing and having shortness of breath,” Herbert said. “Me and Skylar waited in the car, but out of nowhere, Skylar began complaining about her head hurting again and then she just threw up.”
After a temperature check of 100 degrees, her mom wrapped her up in blankets because she was shivering. This is when Skylar went into a seizure.
Ebbie Herbert, 48, had just come out from the emergency room and scooped up his daughter.
“(I told her) Skylar, look at your daddy, Skylar, look at your daddy,” Herbert said. “She came out of the seizure and me and her mother ran back into the emergency room.”
Skyler was sent back to the Royal Oak campus and was admitted to the pediatric ICU for sedation and various tests, including a lumbar puncture. This is when her parents learned that she had meningoencephalitis, a rare complication of the coronavirus, which resulted in swelling of brain tissue and a lesion on Skylar’s frontal lobe, according to her parents.
“I would whisper in her ear and say, ‘Skylar, hold your leg up. Just think about it really hard and hold your leg up.’ And with my assistance, she did,” LaVondria said of her only child. Tragically, Skylar would never open her eyes again.
Ebbie’s coronavirus test was inconclusive despite his symptoms. The family lives in an area that is among the hardest hit by the virus, with 559 cases reported as of Sunday. The coronavirus has been hitting Black communities at a disproportionate rate since it began to spread in the United States. According to a Sunday report by The Detroit News, Michigan’s has reported 31,424 COVID-19 cases, with 2,391 deaths recorded. At least 40% of fatalities are Black people. This number is even higher for Detroit, with at least 76%.
A spokesman for Beaumont Health released a statement concerning Skylar’s death. “The loss of a child, at any time, under any circumstances, is a tragedy,” it read. “We are heartbroken that COVID-19 has taken the life of a child. We extend our deepest sympathy to Skylar’s family and all others who have lost a loved one to this virus.”