You don’t have to believe in COVID-19 for it to kill you.
Jodi Doering, an emergency room nurse in South Dakota, has watched that simple truth play out again and again over the last year, as many of her patients have denied the coronavirus‘ existence or their own diagnosis up to their dying breath.
Doering described her work as a “horror movie that never ends” on Saturday, in a Twitter thread that provoked hundreds of thousands of reactions. The nurse said she was particularly frustrated by the patients who embraced misinformation around the virus, even as it wracked their bodies and eventually killed them.
“The ones that stick out are those who still don’t believe the virus is real,” Doering wrote. “The ones who scream at you for magic medicine and that (U.S. president-elect) Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA.”
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She added that there are plenty of patients who “have done everything right” and are “so thankful,” but it’s the deniers who really bother her.
“They tell you there must be another reason they are sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that ‘stuff’ because they don’t have COVID because it’s not real,” she wrote.
Doering later added that she doesn’t believe the virus is making people “turn mean,” as one commenter suggested.
“I think the ones I am seeing are just jerks,” she tweeted.
She explained to CNN on Monday that she was simply venting during a rare night off, and had not expected her tweets to go viral.
“The hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else and they want a magic answer,” she told CNN. “They’re filled with anger and hatred.
“Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening, it’s not real.’”
South Dakota has the second-highest infection rate in the United States, according to data compiled by the New York Times. It has averaged more than 1,423 new daily cases over the last week, and the state’s death toll sits at 644 people. That’s the second-highest death rate in the country, as South Dakota has a population of only 884,659.
South Dakota’s neighbour, North Dakota, is the only state ahead of it on daily infection and death rates.
Doering, who lives in the small town of Woonsocket, S.D., compared the state’s death toll to the town’s population of 655 people.
“That’s every single person in our town gone,” she said. “The fact that we have this many deaths in a state this size is mindblowing to me.”
More than 246,000 Americans have died of the virus since it spread to the U.S. earlier this year.
Doering is one of a growing number of healthcare workers who have turned to social media or news outlets to share their frustrations, amid a surging second wave and a tide of misinformation about the virus.
Trump spent several months downplaying the threat, promising the virus would “disappear” and imagining false cures before coming down with it himself in October. He eventually recovered from COVID-19 after receiving the best treatments available, then urged Americans not to fear the virus.
Doering says she doesn’t care if her patients are Democrat or Republican, and she wants to “scream” when people try to politicize the virus. She just wants people to wear masks and socially distance themselves to keep cases down.
“I’m not your first line of defence, I’m your last,” she told CNN, citing a meme from social media.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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