Skylar Herbert, the 5-year-old daughter of two first responders, has died on Sunday from the COVID-19 coronavirus. Her parents confirmed her death to Detroit News, saying that she died after spending two weeks on a ventilator. She tested positive for COVID-19 in March and suffered from serious complications afterward.
On Sunday, LaVondria Herbert, Skylar’s mother, said: “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.”
Skylar’s mother has been a police officer in Detroit for 25 years, whereas her father, Ebbie Herbert, is a Detroit firefighter. Her father also developed symptoms of the coronavirus when Skylar was tested, but his test came back inconclusive.
According to Detroit News, Skylar’s death makes her the first child to die of COVID-19 in Michigan.
Skylar First Experienced Headaches & Initially Tested Positive for Strep Throat
Skylar had first complained of headaches to her parents a month ago. On March 23, she tested positive for strep throat and returned home with her parents, but the headache did not go away, so her parents took her to the emergency room at Beaumont Royal Oak. She was tested for COVID-19 and received a positive diagnosis the next day.
Skylar was released from the hospital the next day, but the family returned because Ebbie started coughing and feeling shortness of breath. While Skylar and her mother waited in the car for Ebbie to get tested, LaVondria said, “out of nowhere, Skylar began complaining about her head hurting again and then she just threw up” and had a temperature of 100 degrees. Then she had a seizure.
At that point, Skylar was admitted to pediatric ICU for some tests, and her parents learned that she had meningitis. Although she did improve for a bit, it wasn’t long until the 5-year-old relapsed. Skylar developed meningoencephalitis, which has been identified as a rare coronavirus complication causing swelling in the brain tissue and a lesion on the frontal lobe. LaVondria said, “She was really in and out as far as sleeping. They just cut out a small hole in the front of her head and stuck the tube in so that the fluid could drain.”
Skylar, who was the Herbert family’s only child, never woke up again after that. She was placed on a ventilator, where she remained for two weeks until her death.
Her Parents Do Not Know How She Contracted the Coronavirus
Her parents told Detroit News they don’t know how Skylar contracted the virus. They said she hadn’t left the house in weeks and did not have any underlying conditions or health issues. Ebbie’s test came back inconclusive.
The African American family lives in northwest Detroit, in a zip code that’s one of the most affected, with 559 cases on Sunday. Michigan overall had 31,424 cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with 2,391 recorded deaths. According to the Michigan government, 40% of the state’s fatalities are African Americans. In Detroit, that number is much higher, with over 76% of fatalities from the coronavirus coming from the African American community.
A hospital spokesperson released a statement about Skylar’s death:
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.