5-year-old daughter of Detroit first responders dies from coronavirus complications

Courtesy The Herbert familyBy MARIYA MOSELEY, ABC News

(DETROIT) — A 5-year-old Detroit girl who complained to her parents about a bad headache and was then admitted to the hospital died less than a month later from coronavirus complications.

Skylar Herbert had big dreams of becoming a pediatric dentist one day, and she loved stuffed animals and playing dress-up in her princess dresses.

She was the daughter of two veteran first responders: her mom LaVondria, who has been a police officer for 25 years, and her dad Ebbie, who has been a firefighter for 18.

Skylar died Sunday at Beaumont Hospital, in the company of her family and the team of doctors who had been treating her. She is Michigan’s youngest victim to succumb to the coronavirus, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

While medical professionals first believed her symptoms indicated strep throat, she later developed a rare form of meningitis and brain swelling. Her death came less than two weeks after doctors put her on a ventilator as a precaution.

Now, her mother is speaking out against those not taking the COVID-19 guidelines seriously.

“Practice the social distancing, wear the masks, keep washing your hands,” LaVondria Herbert told ABC News. “I don’t understand how people don’t know how to sit down and relax … this is affecting everybody around the country.”

While it’s still unclear how Skylar contracted the coronavirus, both of her parents have experienced virus symptoms, with her father recently overcoming a fever and pneumonia. Her mother says that she recently lost her sense of taste and smell around March 20, which data suggests is a symptom of the virus.

While Skylar’s mother has been unable to get tested, her father said he was tested around March 25 and the results came back inconclusive.

Her parents have also said that Skylar had no underlying health conditions before contracting the virus, and that her death debunks the theory that children aren’t being impacted.

Michigan has more than 31,000 COVID-19 cases and least 2,391 deaths, according to the Detroit News, and the Herberts live in one of the state’s hardest-hit communities. Additionally, African-Americans account for more than 40% of COVID-19 cases in Michigan and 76% of the coronavirus deaths in Detroit.

Skylar’s grandmother, Leona Pannell-Herbert, said that Skylar was an energetic and joyful kindergartener.

She said Skyler was very bright and called her a “smart little cookie.” She also said she nicknamed her granddaughter her “little diva” for her sassy personality, and that Skylar loved taking her dog out of the cage to play when she came over to visit.

Thousands across social media have paid tribute to Skylar, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and actress Mia Farrow. She was also remembered by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who paid tribute to the young girl at the start of her daily COVID-19 briefing.

“They’ve been on the front line, and they’ve served with honor and integrity,” Whitmer said of Skylar’s parents. “They did not deserve to lose their child to this virus. Nobody does.”

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