Carsyn Davis was an honor student, amateur photographer and choir singer who died of COVID-19-related complications in Fort Myers, Florida, at age 17, after she attended a church function with about 100 other people.
Davis had a series of pre-existing conditions that her mother outlined in a lengthy statement posted to a GoFundMe page in her name. She died in a Florida hospital, but her death has provoked controversy because she was being treated with hydroxychloroquine and “other unproven remedies” (in the words of the Tampa Times) for nearly two weeks by her parents, a nurse and physician’s assistant. The newspaper says she died of respiratory failure, becoming one of the coronavirus’s youngest Florida victims.
The teen’s mother, Carole Brunton Davis, has been criticized for alleged anti-mask social media posts and for pushing hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for her daughter. That’s the drug heavily touted by President Donald Trump as a possible COVID-19 cure. Brunton Davis is the subject of a petition calling for her to be held accountable for the girl’s death.
In April 2020, The Washington Post reported that the FDA had warned that doctors “should not use the malaria drugschloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat covid-19 patients outside a hospital or a clinical trial, citing reports of ‘serious heart rhythm problems.’” In mid-June, the FDA “withdrew its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine,” according to The Post, arguing they were likely to be ineffective against COVID-19. On July 8, StatNews reported that the White House has touted a study to claim the drug can help against COVID-19 but many other studies showed no effect. See the FDA’s warnings on the drug here.
Carsyn died on June 23. The cause of death is listed in the medical examiner’s report as “Complications of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Pneumonia.” You can read the report in full here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Church Is Denying That It Held a ‘COVID-19 Party’ But a Medical Examiner’s Report Says Davis Attended a Large Church Function Without a Mask or Social Distancing
Church called their covid party a "Release Party," and hosted hundreds of people, including more than 100 children, often wrote about covid being God's will pic.twitter.com/UrODqAozMX
— Rebekah Jones aka #Insubordinate #scientist (@GeoRebekah) July 7, 2020
The Medical Examiner’s report from Miami-Dade County described Davis attending a “church function with 100 other children” and says that her mother and father, who are a nurse and physician’s assistant, tried treating her at home. It describes in great detail their attempt to treat her condition at home, including with hydroxychloroquine. The report says:
TERMINAL EVENT: 17 year old female with a complex medical history including opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (resolved at 5 years of age), hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction, precocious puberty, morbid obesity who present with respiratory failure. The decedent’s mother and father are a nurse and physician’s assistant, respectively. On June 10, the decedent attended a church function with 100 other children. She did not wear a mask. Social distancing was not followed. The parents prophylactically treated her with azithromycin (6/10-6/15). On June 13, she developed frontal headache, sinus pressure, mild cough. The family thought her symptoms were due to a sinus infection. The symptoms persisted. On June 19, the mother noted she looked ‘gray’ while sleeping. She tested the decedent’s O2 saturation and it was in the 40s. The mother borrowed the decedent’s grandfather’s home oxygen (he has COPD) and her O2 saturation rose to the 60s on 5L. The parents gave her a dose of hydroxychloroquine. The parents took her to Gulf Coast Medical Center and she was transferred to Golisano Hospital PICU. On June 19, 2020, she was found to be positive for SARSCoV-2. Her LFTs were significantly elevated. The parents declined intubation.
The report continues to describe the treatment Davis received at the hospital:
The decedent received convalescent plasma therapy on June 20 and 21st. On June 22, 2020 the decedent’s condition had not improved and intubation was required. The decedent was intubated. Her cardiorespiratory status continued to decline. On June 22, 2020, despite aggressive therapy and maneuvers, her best O2 saturation was low 70s. The mother requested heroic efforts despite knowing she had low chance of meaningful survival. Preparations were made to perform ECMO on the decedent. The decedent was transferred from Golisano Hospital to the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for ECMO. She was transported without incident directly to the cath lab at Nicklaus Children’s for ECMO cannulation. After cannulation she required escalation of inotropic support and vasopressor support. She was transferred to the PICU after the procedure and continued to deteriorate requiring increasing doses of pressors. Chest X-ray was performed and showed severe bilateral infiltrates and subcutaneous emphysema. She developed worsening distributive shock and multiorgan failure. She was to undergo dialysis and plasmapheresis however due to rapid deterioration and inability to bring up oxygen saturation, these interventions were unable to be performed. Echocardiogram was performed and showed no cardiac
function, pupils were 5 mm and fixed. She was pronounced dead on 6/23/2020 at 1306.
The Fort Myers News-Press reported that the First Assembly of God church attended by Davis in Fort Myers was accused of having “intentionally exposed members to the coronavirus and ignored safety guidelines on masks and social distancing.”
The claims also derive from the Twitter page of Rebekah Jones, who alleged that the church held what it called a “release party” and the mother tried to get the hospital to give the teen hydroxychloroquine. Jones shared screenshots alleging that Davis’ mother opposed masks for children. Jones is a Florida scientist who alleged she was fired from the Florida Health Department because she wouldn’t manipulate COVID-19 data.
Mother has this to say on Facebook the day before her daughter died, while she was in the hospital. pic.twitter.com/4Qk7W3Lq5O
— Rebekah Jones aka #Insubordinate #scientist (@GeoRebekah) July 7, 2020
In one post, Jones wrote, “Florida teen dies after mother took her to church coronavirus party, then treated her with hydroxychloroquine.”
First Assembly of God church denies the accusations.
The church’s website contains this statement: “First Assembly has resumed weekend services, following social distance guidelines, Saturdays at 6 PM and Sundays at 9 AM and 11 AM. Registration to attend is no longer required.”
The church also released a lengthy press release that says:
Over the past 24 hours First Assembly of God of Fort Myers has been accused of hosting ‘COVID-19 parties.’ Nothing could be farther from the truth. First Assembly of God of Fort Myers is following all of the health protections and protocols recommended by the state and local government with regard to holding its church services. Let us be clear – media reports and postings accusing the church of ignoring protocols or actively engaging in behavior intended to expose our congregation to the virus are absolutely false and defamatory.
It is heartbreaking that a young lady who frequently attended Youth Church over the past few years has recently passed away. The church, and many members of Youth Church particularly, had reached out to her family and her during her illness, praying for her and sending video messages and personal encouragement while she was going through her illness and in the hospital. Out of respect for her family, and at their request, the church did not comment to the media about her illness and her passing. The church intends to continue to honor that request. Our sympathies go out to her entire family during this tragic period of their lives.
Nonetheless, due to irresponsible reporting and reprehensible posting of speculation and innuendo about her care during her illness, the accuracy of which is suspect, media stories have perpetuated, including unfounded claims that she attended what has been described as a ‘COVID-19 party’ at the church. Those allegations are absolutely false and are based upon irresponsible speculation and inaccurate information. Because those false reports have been picked up, perpetuated and posted throughout national, local and social media, the church has been subject to a relentless attack and finds itself forced to make this statement in an effort to get the truth out.
First Assembly of God of Fort Myers has always tried to be a leader in promoting caring, compassion, reason and the love of Jesus Christ in this community and throughout the world. Despite these false accusations, the church will continue to follow the lead of Jesus and hope that the actions of our love for others, and the history of those efforts, speak for us.
Some medical experts have been critical of the care Carsyn received. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist who spent 16 years at Harvard in public health, is one of them. Some accusations, such as one by Jones that the mother took the girl to the church event to “intentionally expose her immuno-compromised daughter to this virus,” are not proven.
NBC2 spoke with Pastor David Thomas at the First Assembly of God Church. “He said the church did take precautions to keep kids safe during the June 10 event. Thomas said if kids weren’t practicing social distancing, that was their decision. He said the church wasn’t going to be policing the event,” the station reported.
2. A GoFundMe Page Described Davis’ Kindness, ‘Sweet Laughter,’ & Giving Heart
A GoFundMe created by a family friend has raised more than $14,000.
“On June 23rd, Carsyn Leigh Davis, youngest sister of the Davis Family and light to the people she knew, was brought home to be with God,” it reads. “While her time here ended far too soon, many can attest that she was beyond her 17 years of age. Her kindness, giving heart, and sweet laughter has been a blessing to each person she has met. Throughout her life, she has endured battles for her health with strength and grace. Her family is sound in that where she is now, she no longer has to fight and can live the heavenly life she has always deserved.”
The page continued, “I’m a close family friend of theirs, this GoFundMe page has been set up on behalf of the Davis family. All proceeds will be given to Carsyn’s mother and beneficiary of this GoFundMe page, Carole Davis, to help cover the medical expenses they will face after trying to save her life.”
It adds: “As the Davis family grieves the loss of their sweet girl, please refer to this page for accurate updates from the family. Thank you for any contribution you’re able to make. This family deserves all the love this world has to offer.”
Buzzfeed reported that, four days after the church event, Pastor Dusty Zarick “posted a video to the First Youth Church page warning the community that families who attended the event were experiencing coronavirus symptoms and subsequently all events would be canceled for the next two weeks.”
That post is archived on the Local Prayers website, which shows it read:
As you know these are very unique times in our world. Daily, we are leaning on God for wisdom and direction, and making decisions accordingly. With that being said, it has recently been brought to our attention that a couple of our families have been effected by Covid-19. With wisdom and prayer, we have made the decision to shut down Youth Church for the next 14 days. This is a proactive decision to keep you safe, which is our highest priority! I know this is discouraging news to hear, but God is still moving and working through all of this! He ALWAYS wins! We will continue to connect with you online! I love you Youth Church and can’t wait to see you soon
The “release party” post archived on the same site reads:
Service is back and better than ever! We will be having our Release Party in the gym TONIGHT at 6:45. There will be games, awesome giveaways, free food, a DJ and music, and the start of our new sermon series. AND we’ll be starting Summer Nights afterwords with karaoke and basketball! We hope to see you there! 🎉
3. Carsyn’s Mother, Who Works as a Nurse, Says That Davis Fought Health Challenges From Age 2, Including Cancer & a ‘Very Rare Autoimmune Disorder’
Carsyn’s mother issued a statement on the GoFundMe page that describes some of the girl’s pre-existing conditions.
“Our precious baby girl, Carsyn Leigh Davis, went home to be with her Lord and savior on 6/23/2020 at 1:06 pm. We are incredibly saddened by her passing at this young age, but are comforted that she is pain free. Heaven gained an angel. Carsyn did not have an easy life. She fought health challenges from the age of 2, including cancer and a very rare autoimmune disorder,” it reads.
“She endured years of treatment, doctor visits, specialists, and the effects of those treatments. She lost her dad at the age of 10. Yet, she survived it all, never complaining and never focusing on herself. Even through the ravages of Covid, fighting to breathe, she never once shed a tear, complained or expressed fear.”
The statement continues: “Carsyn was a God warrior, mentor, advisor, advocate, helper and friend to all who knew her. She regularly stood up for those who could not fight for themselves.”
The mother’s LinkedIn page describes her as, “R.N., B.S.N Manager, Charge Audit/CCA at nThrive.” She describes her job of 12 years as:
Nurse Auditor, nThrive, formerly Adreima (acquired National Healthcare Review in 2013)
Charge auditor for multiple hospital facilities throughout the US/OPERA project, SOX, Florida Medicaid pre-approval project. Requires remote review of patient medical records and the abstracting of data, using a variety of server applications, programs and computer systems. HIPAA compliance.
Nurse Auditor, National Healthcare Review, Inc. (Florida)
Included concurrent charge audit of outpatient and inpatient hospital accounts at multiple facilities, RAC audits, stop loss and insurance defense audits. Additional duties performed included consultation with CFO, CNO, and department managers to review and update facility charge master, manage alert report and cross dependency reports, and create charge sheets for implantable cardiac devices. Worked alongside the case managers at one facility to review admissions and outpatient observation accounts for admission criteria.
She wrote that she has a bachelor’s degree in Health Information/Medical Records Administration/Administrator from Florida Southwestern State college, and a certificate in Perfusion Technology/Perfusionist from Loyola University Chicago, and a bachelor of science degree in registered nursing from the University of Iowa.
A man who gave the mother a LinkedIn recommendation wrote, “Carole is smart, compassionate, driven, a leader, and a producer of results. She is an excellent mentor able to establish a clear vision while coaxing the best from everyone.”
Heavy has confirmed that Carole Brunton Davis has a valid registered nursing license in Florida.
4. Carsyn Was Described as ‘Incredibly Patriotic,’ Organizing Christmas Card Writing for the Troops
According to her mother’s statement, Davis was “incredibly patriotic, organizing Christmas card writing for ‘Ten thousand For the Troops.'”
“She bought cards and handed them out at every gathering, event and to classrooms at school. She wrote dozens of cards herself,” the statement explains. “Carsyn was a member of the Cypress Lake varsity bowling team for 3 years, following in her brother’s footsteps. She loved the sport and was a member of the youth bowling league at Lightning Strikes.”
She was also in a choir. “She was a member of the Cypress Lake Vocal Department, following in the footsteps of her 3 older siblings. She loved being part of the choir,” her mother’s statement says. “Carsyn served as an aide to the special needs classroom. She understood very well what it was like to have special needs. She was a faithful volunteer for Special Olympics and the Be A Buddy program.”
Carsyn had other talents too. “She was an avid photographer and loved her AP Photography class at school. She loved visiting her grandparents on Sanibel and taking pictures at the beach, at sunset. Carsyn loved going to coin shows with her step dad and was a member of the Florida United Numismatists. She had recently completed her Barber half set.”
5. Carsyn Was an Honor Student & Devout Christian
Davis excelled in school, attending Cypress Lake High School.
“In addition to attending classes at CLHS, Carsyn also took on line classes through Florida Virtual School. She was an honor student, achieving straight A’s on her last report card,” her mother wrote.
“She was a devout Christian and follower of Jesus. She loved to volunteer. She was actively involved in Youth Church at First Assembly of God in Ft. Myers. She was involved with the Angel Tree ministry, buying and delivering gifts to underprivileged youth who had a parent serving time in prison. She also participated in the Operation Christmas Child program through Samaritan’s Purse, filling several Christmas boxes each year. Though she never wanted anything for herself, she was always making or buying gifts for others.”
The statement concluded, “Carsyn deeply loved her family; her sisters and brother, grandparents, Mom and Step dad. She was always concerned about everyone else’s well-being and happiness. We will truly miss her, but look forward to seeing her in Heaven.”