Skylar Herbert, a five-year-old daughter of two frontline workers in Michigan, lost her life on Sunday due to complications from the coronavirus.
Skylar’s heartbreaking death amassed a large response on social media as the devastating effects of this pandemic continues to threaten Black communities and families at disproportionate rates.
According to The Detroit News, Skylar’s battle with the virus began after she complained of experiencing a painful headache that would not go away.
On Sunday Skylar’s parents, LaVondria Herbert, a veteran 18-year firefighter, and father Ebbie, who has 25 years on the Detroit police force, made the most painful decision of their lives.
Skylar, the couple’s only child, developed a rare form of meningoencephalitis 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,” LaVondria, 46, said on Sunday.
Skylar’s parents initially took her to the pediatrician on March 23, where she tested positive for strep throat and was issued antibiotics. However, her condition seemed to worsen even after doctor’s said the antibiotics would take 48 hours to set in.
Weary, LaVondria and Ebbie took her to Beaumont Royal Oak hospital on March 29 where she tested positive for the coronavirus a day after she was admitted. The diagnosis gave an answer to her headache and mild fever. However, the family journeyed through a series of hills and valley’s before Skylar’s untimely death.
Skylar was released from the hospital, but was admitted again on the same day her father Ebbie was being treated for coronavirus symptoms–coughing and shortness of breath.
“Me and Skylar waited in the car, but out of nowhere, Skylar began complaining about her head hurting again and then she just threw up,” LaVondria continued. Skylar soon experienced an 100 degree fever and went into a seizure in her parent’s arms.
“(I told her) Skylar, look at your daddy, Skylar, look at your daddy,” Ebbie, 48, said. “She came out of the seizure and me and her mother ran back into the emergency room.”
Skylar was admitted for a second time where doctors discovered the rare meningitis infection. At this point her condition was touch and go. She seemed to be recouping, but then relapsed.
“She was really in and out as far as sleeping,” LaVondria Herbert said. “They just cut out a small hole in the front of her head and stuck the tube in so that the fluid could drain.”
A day after she was placed on a ventilator.
LaVondria and Ebbie are unsure of how their daughter contracted the virus, as Ebbie’s test results came back inconclusive.
The family also lived in a zip code with one of the highest infection rates in the state. As of Sunday 559 cases were reported. Michigan has over 31,000 COVID-19 cases, with 2,391 deaths. But the disparities among Black communities is striking. Black people make up 40 percent of those fatalities. In Detroit 76 percent of fatalities are African-Americans.
Skylar’s death is juxtaposed with the rage and inconsideration of thousands of Michigan residents who have taken to protesting Governor Gretchen Whitmer‘s stay at home orders, demanding that the state open up businesses to boost the economy.
The protests show the lack of compassion for the most affected members of their communities, Black citizens, and also speak to a trend of white demonstrators who are using this time to weaponize against Democratic leadership.
Aside from the storm swelling around them, the Herberts vow to remember their daughter’s vibrant personality and loving nature.
“She was the type of girl that would just run up to you and jump in your arms and hug you,” LaVondria said. “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.”