Detroit Man With Coronavirus Symptoms Dies After 3 Hospitals Deny Testing and Treatment

The man became ill after his father contracted the virus.

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A Detroit man was turned away from three hospitals after showing COVID-19 symptoms and having been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.

56-year-old Gary Fowler later passed away on April 7 at home in a recliner while his wife slept in a nearby bed, the Detroit Free Press reports. Gary died a mere six hours after his father, 76-year-old David Fowler, also succumbed to the virus.

Gary Fowler’s stepson Keith Gambrell told the outlet Fowler attempted to get medical treatment at three emergency rooms in the Detroit area: Beaumont, Detroit Receiving, and Henry Ford hospitals. He was denied a test or treatment.

Gary began exhibiting symptoms after visiting his father in late March. The family believed David had the flu but he tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized with a ventilator after passing out at home.

According to Gambrell, Beaumont Hospital told Gary he likely had bronchitis and to treat it like it was COVID-19. Fowler was given similar instructions at the other hospitals.

“He was begging for his life, but no one would help him at all. Like they just kept sending him away,” Gambrell told CBS This Morning. “I honestly believe it was because my father was black. They didn’t honestly take his symptoms serious enough to give him a test.”

“He was begging for his life — but no one would help him”: One Michigan family is mourning the death of 56-year-old Gary Fowler after he was turned away from testing three times

— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 22, 2020

While Detroit Receiving Hospital toldWXYZ Detroit the hospital had no record of Gary Fowler, Henry Ford Hospital told the news outlet:


Beaumont expressed similar sentiments in a statement:


After his stepfather passed away, Gambrell reached out to his cousin, State Representative Karen Whitsett, to get tests for his family. Gambrell and his brothers Troy and Ross have now tested positive for the virus. Gambrell’s mother was also hospitalized for COVID-19 on the day her husband died. The family has since set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with medical bills and expenses.

A disproportionate number of black people have died from COVID-19 in Michigan. According to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, even though black people are only 14 percent of the state’s population, they make up around 33 percent of the state’s cases and about 40 percent of the deaths. 

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