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Detroit mother of 4 died from coronavirus; her brother wants others to learn from it

Laneeka Barksdale, a Detroit mother of four, put up a good fight with COVID-19, but it was one she did not win. It is something her family is hoping everyone can learn from.

“We were walking home from school one day,” said Omari Barksdale, Laneeka’s brother. “I was 7 and she was 8, and we were kind of new to the neighborhood, and some guys from the block tried to jump me, and my sister stepped in and fought my fight because I was scared.”

She was Omari Barksdale’s first protector, but neither he nor anyone could return that favor.

Laneeka Barksdale, or Nikki, as she was known, was among the latest casualties in the war against the coronavirus.

Omari Barksdale said the 47-year-old mother of four had been sick for roughly two weeks. Her symptoms, which were complicated by asthma, became overbearing. Her family convinced her to go to the hospital.

“They induced a coma maybe her second day in the hospital to see if they could give her lungs a bit of a break from overworking,” Omari Barksdale said. “They brought her out of the coma. When she came out, she still wasn’t able to process enough oxygen.”

Omari Barkdsale said doctors kept his sister heavily sedated trying to get her oxygen, but she maintained a temperature of 102 degrees and finally succumbed to the virus Monday, March 23.

“She has two school-aged children and it is really devastating to them,” he said. “And her oldest two sons, it’s devastating to them, as well.”

As of Wednesday, March 25, the COVID-19 death toll was steadily rising in Michigan, with the number of confirmed cases nearing 1,800, and residents under a shelter in place order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Omari Barksdale pleaded with people to their part to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“This is the most serious thing we’ve faced as a world in anybody’s lifetime that’s alive right now,” he said. “The implications of it are too vast to take lightly.”

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