5-Year-Old Daughter of First Responders Becomes First Child to Die of Coronavirus in Michigan

A five-year-old girl from Detroit has become the youngest person — and first child — to die of coronavirus in the state.

On Sunday, three weeks after Skylar Herbert was hospitalized on March 29, her parents made the difficult decision to take her off a ventilator, and the child died, according to The Detroit News. In addition to testing positive for COVID-19, Skylar had also developed meningoencephalitis, a rare form of meningitis, which casued 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,” mother LaVondria Herbert, who works as a police officer in Detroit, told the outlet.

LaVondria, 46, and her husband Ebbie, a Detroit firefighter, sought medical attention for their daughter on March 23, taking her to a pediatrician after Skylar complained of persistent, painful headaches, the outlet reported.

Skylar tested positive for strep throat and was given antibiotics, but her headaches continued and she began “crying so bad,” that LaVondria and her husband decided to take her to the emergency room.

There, she was tested for coronavirus, and the results came back positive.

Skylar was released from the hospital one day after her diagnosis, but then Ebbie, 48, began experiencing coronavirus symptoms. The family went back to the emergency room. (Ebbie’s coronavirus test came back inconclusive.)

“Out of nowhere, Skylar began complaining about her head hurting again and then she just threw up,” LaVondria told The Detroit News.

After being readmitted into the hospital, Skylar’s family learned of her meningitis diagnosis, and as her health began to worsen, she was put on a ventilator.

“She was the type of girl that would just run up to you and jump in your arms and hug you,” LaVondria said, remembering her daughter. “It didn’t matter what she was doing, she would stop what she was doing and tell me she loved me like 20 times a day.”

“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,” a spokesman for Beaumont Health told PEOPLE in a statement. “We extend our deepest sympathy to Skylar’s family and all others who have lost a loved one to this virus.”

As of Sunday afternoon, there have been at least 31,424 confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan and 2,391 deaths, according to the Michigan Health Department. At the time, the median age for fatalities was 75, while the youngest was 20.

“Michigan right now has the third-highest death count in the country. We are the 10th-largest state. As you can deduce, this means we have a uniquely hard issue going on here,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said over the weekend, as she defended the state’s stay-at-home order, which has been protested by some residents, and is currently set to expire at the end of the month.

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