Skip to content

Obituary: Honestie Hodges, apparently healthy before, dies aged 14 of COVID-19 after being handcuffed at 11 for no reason. Just a coincidence. Or not.

Honestie Hodges courtesy Hodges family and GoFundMe

Honestie Hodges, aged 14, died Sunday November 22, 2020 from COVID-19, per the Guardian on Nov. 25. According to her grandmother, Alisa Niemeyer, she tested positive Nov. 9 and was placed on a ventilator not long afterwards:

“She could have been the vice-president one day or maybe the president,” Niemeyer told local news station Wood TV on Monday. “The world was open to her.”

Niemeyer said Honestie tested positive for Covid-19 on 9 November, her birthday, and was sent back to her home in Grand Rapids [Michigan.] Later that night, she was rushed to the hospital by ambulance after experiencing stomach pains. She said her granddaughter had no underlying conditions, but her health rapidly deteriorated in the hospital and she was placed on a ventilator.

“There was no way we thought this was ever going to happen,” Niemeyer said. “You know [we thought], ‘She is going to get better; she is going to come home and we are going to have a birthday party.’”

Honestie was first thrust into the national spotlight in December 2017. The then 11-year-old, her mother and another relative had left their home to go to the store, when police officers confronted them with their guns drawn and handcuffed them. The officers had been searching for a middle-aged white woman suspected in connection to a stabbing.

Death rates from the virus as of Nov. 10, disaggregated by race, are 111.4 per 100,000 for Black people (African- and Caribbean-American, mostly), 61.7 per 100,000 for White people (European-American) and 47.6 per 100,000 for Asian people (Chinese-, Filipino-, Vietnamese-, and Japanese-American, mostly.) While the rates for Asian people are lower than for White people, there is some question as to whether that is statistically significant (there’s no significance data available to me.)

The death rate for Black people stated above represents one in 875 Black people in the US; for White people, that represents one in every 1,625. These figures come from the American Public Media (APM) Research Lab, which says that it has “documented the race and ethnicity for 96% of the cumulative deaths in the United States.” (This documentation has not been publicly provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as you would normally expect.)

Why did Honestie Die From COVID-19?

The New York Times had these details:

Honestie developed severe stomach pains on Nov. 9, her 14th birthday. Taken to the hospital, she tested positive for the new coronavirus and was sent home. But her condition worsened that evening, an ambulance was called, and she was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit. Over the next few days she received iron and blood transfusions as complications arose. She was placed on a ventilator on Nov. 14. But her condition never improved. Ms. Niemeyer updated the GoFundMe page asking for prayers.

This suggests that she may have been severely anemic, possibly due to iron deficiency. The quote below suggests that the anemia was present at the time she was admitted…

The following text comes from a WoodTV (local TV in Grand Rapids) online item:

Later that day, Honestie was rushed back to the hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit. She was immediately given an iron transfusion, a blood transfusion and put on oxygen, but her condition continued to worsen.

After spending the next five days battling complications from contracting coronavirus, Honestie was placed on a ventilator Nov. 14, according to Niemeyer.

The family then launched a social media campaign in which family, friends, and supporters could post a picture of Honestie as their profile pictures with a frame around the image titled, “Faith over fear.”

Over the next couple days, it seemed as if Honestie was making progress. Her blood pressure was returning to normal but she was still on medication for her blood sugar and potassium levels, according to the GoFundMe page.

Another news media story from the same source reported that an unidentified child had died Saturday evening Nov. 21 of Multi-Systemic Inflammatory disorder in Children (MIS-C)– probably not the same child.

Whether the girl’s “blood sugar and potassium” tests indicate that she had diabetes is open to question, but certainly suggestive.

A final piece of this puzzle comes from ATT/Yahoo:

In a 2018 interview, Hodges’ mother, Rennae Wooten, said the incident had left Honestie “traumatized.”

“She can’t sleep. She doesn’t even want to go to school,” Wooten told the Detroit Free Press, “I want justice. My kids are messed up from this. They got my kids terrified. This is crazy.”

The role of emotional trauma in susceptibility to infection is underappreciated; factors that make this less likely include the passage of three years since the incident and the age of the victim. Nonetheless, I will add it as a possible contributing factor.

Honestie’s death was an avoidable tragedy

The tragedy here is that a 14-year-old girl with no apparent prior health conditions, even obesity (based on the photograph) died of a virus that kills very few pediatric cases. Her risk factors for death, not to mention for being infected in the first place, are primarily her race/ethnicity and her socioeconomic status– but they only double or triple the risk, which should be less than 1/10 of 1% to begin with.

We should be investigating her death carefully

We would be very interested to learn, from a coroner or other party authorized to investigate, precisely which other factors led to her death. We are dubious as to whether ethnic and socioeconomic status are sufficient explanations for the mortality of a 14-year-old.

This pandemic has laid bare for all who have eyes to see the inequities of American society. Those who have sufficient expertise and involvement in the basic activities of disease and mortality ascertainment should use all the facilities at their disposal to make clear the extent to which people in this country are made sick or killed by factors beyond their own control.

More than 2,000 people a day are dying in the United States

PS Perhaps my predictions of over 2,000 deaths a day were premature, but yesterday’s death toll from the virus was over 2,000: the New York Times reported today that yesterday showed 2,216 deaths and 178,200 new infections. North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah all showed very high rates of new infections. North Dakota showed a spike of 2,270 new cases on November 14.

No comments yet

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: