An immuno-compromised 17-year-old attended a church's coronavirus 'release' party with dozens of children and died days later from the disease

insider@insider.com (Rhea Mahbubani)
FILE - This Monday, April 6, 2020 file photo shows an arrangement of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Las Vegas. According to results released on Thursday, May 7, 2020, a new study finds no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug widely promoted as a treatment for coronavirus infection. Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 consecutive patients treated at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Carsyn Davis was given the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine in the days before she died.

Associated Press

  • A teenager with a history of cancer and and autoimmune disorders as a child died of coronavirus on June 23, two days after turning 17.

  • The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner issued a report saying that Carsyn attended a church event on June 10 with nearly 100 other children where she did not wear a mask, and where social distancing rules weren't enforced.

  • Rebekah Jones, a data scientist who was fired for her unwillingness to falsify Florida's COVID-19 statistics, shared the church event on Twitter and accused the girl's mother of being "reckless" and "intentionally" exposing her "immuno-compromised" daughter to COVID-19.

  • The First Assembly of God in Fort Myers, the church where Davis was active, told Business Insider it followed Florida's rules and guidelines.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Carsyn Leigh Davis spent her 17th birthday in a hospital battling the coronavirus.

Two days later, she was dead. 

According to a report issued by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner, in the days prior to her death, she'd "attended a church function with 100 other children. She did not wear a mask. Social distancing was not followed." 

The report, which identified Carsyn's mother as a nurse and her father as a physician's assistant, said that they treated her with azithromycin following the gathering. But, three days later, she developed a "frontal headache, sinus pressure, mild cough," which her parents thought was a sinus infection, the medical examiner found. But the antibiotic didn't help, and her "symptoms persisted."

Carsyn appeared "gray" while she slept on June 19, per the report, prompting her mother, Carole Brunton Davis, to test the teenager's oxygen saturation level. It was in the 40s, so Brunton Davis hooked Carsyn up to an oxygen supply used by Carsyn's grandfather, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the report said, adding that her parents also gave her "a dose of hydroxychloroquine."

The anti-malarial drug has been touted by President Donald Trump as an effective way to combat the coronavirus, while health experts have warned that it can trigger heart problems and death. On June 15, the Food and Drug Administration revoked the medication's emergency use authorization, saying that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine "are unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19 for the authorized uses in the EUA."

'Aggressive' medical interventions didn't save Carsyn

Carsyn was then taken to a local medical center and then transferred to a pediatric hospital where she tested positive for COVID-19 on June 19, according to the medical examiner's report.

Carsyn's parents "declined intubation," opting instead for her to receive convalescent plasma therapy, the report said. But, by June 22, the teenager wasn't feeling better, so "intubation was required."  

Still, Carsyn's "cardio-respiratory status continued to decline" in spite of "aggressive therapy and maneuvers," and Brunton Davis "requested heroic efforts despite knowing she had a low chance of meaningful survival," according to the report.

Carsyn continued to deteriorate and she died just after 1 p.m. on June 23, before she could be treated with other medical procedures, the report said.

In a statement on GoFundMe, Brunton Davis wrote that Carsyn was only two years old when she began facing health challenges, including cancer and an autoimmune disorder.

Carsyn "did not have an easy life," she wrote. "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."

'This one will stick with me long after this virus has torn through our communities'

The high-risk teenager's story garnered headlines after it was shared by data scientist Rebekah Jones. The 30-year-old Jones was fired from Florida's Department of Health after she refused to modify the state's COVID-19 data. She then created Florida COVID Action, an independent portal with coronavirus-related information.

Jones flagged the medical examiner's report on a website called Florida COVID Victims, which is part of her larger initiative, aiming to pull together information about the state's casualties.

Jones and other critics accused Burton Davis of being "reckless" and "intentionally" exposing the "immuno-compromised" Carsyn to the coronavirus at a so-called "COVID party." 

She also took screenshots of Burton Davis' Facebook page, which has since been deleted or hidden, and posted them on Twitter. Jones included screenshots of a now-deleted post on First Youth Church's Facebook page advertising a "release party" with a DJ and karaoke.

 

"I am so saddened for this girl and the loss of life. I am so angered by the danger of anti-science conspiracy theories and the people those altered-mindsets put in harm's way," Jones wrote. "Every minute lost in someone's life is a tragedy. But this one will stick with me long after this virus has torn through our communities."

The church is defending itself against 'absolutely false and defamatory' claims

It is not clear whether Carsyn contracted the disease while attending the church event, and First Assembly of God sent a statement to Business Insider on Tuesday, denying the allegation that it hosted a coronavirus party.

"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," the statement reads. "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."

But on Monday, First Assembly of God Pastor David Thomas told NBC2 that while the church did enact precautions, they wouldn't be policing attendees, and it was up to individuals to decide whether to maintain social distance.

A spokesperson for the Lee County Sheriff's Office told Business Insider that the department is aware of Carsyn's case, but isn't involved in any investigation into her death.

As of Tuesday, the United States has reported more than 2.9 million coronavirus cases and 130,546 deaths. Florida is the third worst-hit state, with 213,773 confirmed cases and 3,840 deaths, based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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