5-Year-Old Michigan Girl Dies Following Rare Coronavirus Complication

A 5-year-old Michigan girl has died after suffering complications from the coronavirus, marking the first COVID-19 death of a child in the state. According to The Detroit News, Skylar Herbert of Detroit, Michigan, died on Sunday after spending two weeks on a ventilator. After testing positive for the coronavirus in March, she had 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," the 5-year-old's mother, LaVondria Herbert, said. In a statement confirming her death, a spokesman for Beaumont Health said that "the loss of a child, at any time, under any circumstances, is a tragedy. 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."

According to Skylar's parents, both of whom are first responders in Detroit, their daughter began experiencing headaches and a fever in late March and initially tested positive for strep throat on March 23. She was prescribed antibiotics, but her parents took her to Beaumont Royal Oak after Skylar "had been crying all night and saying the headache would not go away." She tested positive for the coronavirus the following day, with doctors determining that the headache and mild fever were side effects of the virus.

Skylar's symptoms quickly worsened, however. Returning to the hospital after her father began to experience shortness of breath, the 5-year-old "began complaining about her head hurting again" and "threw up" while waiting with her mother in the car. Her fever spiked to 100 degrees and she suffered a seizure. Skylar was transferred back to the Royal Oak campus and admitted to the pediatric ICU. After undergoing a number of tests, it was determined that Skyler had developed meningoencephalitis, a rare complication of the coronavirus which caused swelling of brain tissue and a lesion on her frontal lobe.

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After spending two weeks on a ventilator, Skylar died. Prior to her passing, data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services showed that the youngest person to die from the virus in the state was 20.

Michigan has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus. The state has reported more than 31,000 confirmed cases, with deaths surpassing 2,300. At least 40% of fatalities are African Americans, The Detroit News reports. In response to the outbreak, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, though some in the state are now protesting to have the order lifted and the economy reopened.