Florida teen who died of COVID-19 attended large church gathering, was given hydroxychloroquine at home
A Florida teenager who died of complications from COVID-19 had attended a church event with a hundred other children two weeks before her death and was given hydroxychloroquine by her parents, health officials said.
Carsyn Leigh Davis of Fort Myers died on June 23, two days after turning 17, at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
According to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s report, Davis attended a “church function” on June 10 with 100 other children. She did not wear a mask and social distancing was not followed, the report states.
On the same day of the church event, her parents began a six-day treatment of the antibiotic azithromycin, the report says.
On June 13, Davis developed what her family thought was a sinus infection. On June 19, her mother, who is a nurse, thought Davis looked “gray” and tested her oxygen saturation, which was in the 40s, according to the report. Values under 60 might indicate the need for supplemental oxygen, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The report says that Davis’ mother then borrowed a relative’s home oxygen unit and that Davis’ parents gave her a dose of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump for the treatment of COVID-19.
In May, Trump revealed he was taking hydroxychloroquine because some researchers saw anecdotal evidence that a combination of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine might help combat the coronavirus. But the FDA had warned people against taking it outside a hospital or clinical setting because of the risks involved. On June 15, the FDA pulled its emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine phosphate, stating there wasn’t enough evidence of its effectiveness and that it could do more harm than good.
After giving her the hydroxychloroquine dose on June 19, Davis’ parents took her to a local hospital. She was then transferred to the Golisano Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where she tested positive for COVID-19. Her parents declined intubation, according to the medical examiner’s report.
Over the next two days, the report says, Davis received convalescent plasma therapy. On June 22, she was intubated after her condition did not improve. Davis was then transferred to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a last-resort treatment for COVID-19 patients. But after “rapid deterioration and inability to bring up oxygen saturation,” she died on June 23. The cause of death was listed as complications of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pneumonia.
Davis had a “complex medical history,” according to the report, including a rare inflammatory neurological disorder as a child and morbid obesity. In a statement posted to a GoFundMe for the family, Davis’ mother, Carole Brunton Davis, said her daughter “fought health challenges from the age of 2,” including cancer and a rare autoimmune disorder.
“We are incredibly saddened by her passing at this young age, but are comforted that she is pain free,” Brunton Davis said in the statement.
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Brunton Davis’ statement noted that the teen was actively involved in Youth Church at First Assembly of God, a Fort Myers church that hosted the June 10 event. Davis’ death has drawn national attention amid allegations that the church function was a so-called “COVID party,” where partygoers compete to see who can catch the virus. First Assembly of God refuted that claim on Tuesday, saying the reports are “absolutely false and defamatory.”
“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,” the church said in a statement. “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.”
According to its website, the Youth Church will be “back in service” on Wednesday, with a service for middle and high school students. It is unclear when the church ceased hosting services. The Facebook pages for the Youth Church and First Assembly of God have been taken down. Multiple calls from ABC News to First Assembly of God for clarification on its health protocols and the nature of the June 10 event were not returned.
Even if the point of the event wasn’t to get COVID-19, “it was the likely outcome,” one medical professional noted.
“High risk minor, attends an event with no masks, no distancing in a community with high disease burden. She gets sick and doesn’t make it. This didn’t have to happen,” Dr. Dara Kass, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University School of Medicine, said on Twitter Tuesday.
The health department of Lee County, which includes Fort Myers, is currently investigating this case and is unable to comment, a spokesperson told ABC News.
As of Tuesday, Lee County has 7,859 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the positivity rate is 24.6%, among the highest in the state, according to data from the state’s Department of Health. Florida has 213,794 total cases and a positivity rate of 16.1%.