South Dakota nurse: patients regularly say covid isn’t real as they’re dying of it

This is a sad story and I am sorry about that. I’m reporting it as a reminder to myself and our readers that it is not worth it to see anybody without a mask until this is over. We have news of two very promising vaccines in the pipeline so hopefully we’ll be out of this by late spring/early summer. In the mean time we have to be more vigilant and careful because it’s now worse than ever.

Last month we talked about a former coronavirus-denier in Texas, heavily influenced by Fakebook, who held a small family gathering resulting in 14 cases of covid and the death of his father-in-law and grandmother-in-law. He recanted his stance on the virus, but not his support of Trump, after personally being hospitalized and losing family. Well there are people who are sadly dying of the virus, insisting that it’s not real and that they must be suffering from something else.

A nurse in South Dakota, Jodi Doerig, went viral with a Twitter thread describing her sad experiences with these patients in their last moments. I’ve embedded her first tweet below and you can see the thread here. Jodi was on CNN describing some of the cases she’s treated in her small town and it’s chilling. South Dakota now has the highest positivity rate in the US, which is about 60%. Their governor, Kristi Noem, is a Trump supporter and absolute trash. Here’s some of what South Dakota nurse Jodi told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

On people denying that they have covid
I think the hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else. They want a magic answer and they don’t want to believe covid is real.

The reason I tweeted what I did is it isn’t one particular patient it’s a culmination of so many people.

Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real.’ When they should be spending time facetiming their families they’re just filled with anger and hatred. It just made me sad the other night. I just can’t believe that those are going to be their last thoughts and words.

You try to reason with people ‘can I call your family?’ and they say ‘no because I’m going to fine.’ You’re watching their oxygen level… [at] 75. That’s not really compatible with life. It makes you sad and mad and frustrated. You just know that you’re going to come back and do it all over again.

On what people think is wrong with them
People look for anything. People want it to be influenza… pneumonia. We’ve even had people say ‘I think it might be lung cancer.’ Even after positive results come back some people just don’t believe it. That’s not everybody. We have a lot of patients who are very grateful [and] thankful but unfortunately that’s not what I remember.

[From CNN video on Youtube]

After that Jodi said they’ve lost over 600 people in South Dakota, which is greater than the population of her town. “If we had a tornado that came through and killed 20 people we would stop and look and the national news would be there. The fact we’ve had this many deaths in a state this size is mind blowing to me and it’s not getting any better.” It’s brave of her to speak out about this and my heart goes out to her and to all the healthcare workers on the front lines.

I absolutely blame Trump, his spineless Republican buddies and Facebook for willfully spreading misinformation that is robbing these brainwashed people, and their friends and family, of their lives. Facebook needs to be very heavily regulated, if not shut down. I know new ways of spreading lies will pop up, but these platforms need to be monitored and face consequences.

Meanwhile 38% of Americans are saying that they’ll have Thanksgiving with 10 or more people this year. I hope some of them will rethink that. Testing ahead of time doesn’t give guarantees either. Small gatherings are driving spikes in infection rates.

Also, this is really hard to take -warning- but there’s a video of a nurse in El Paso, Texas describing the conditions in the coronavirus rooms in her hospital and it’s heartbreaking. She said she worked there for a month and didn’t see a doctor come into the room once.

Here’s that interview:

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42 Responses to “South Dakota nurse: patients regularly say covid isn’t real as they’re dying of it”

  1. Enis says:

    I work in public health. You would not believe the number of people who work in this arena, who see the data and aren’t taking this seriously.

    I’m exhausted from working so much and also the emotional labor of those around me in my family denying this disease. Wear a mask. Stay the frack home.

    • lola says:

      I unfortunately know a paramedic who thinks that Covid is not that bad, and everyone is totally over reacting, and wearing masks is not necessary.

      • Emm says:

        I read her story yesterday and was just dumbfounded. How people are still denying it to their dying breath?! They have so much anger in them.

        I also know someone who is married to a nurse who works in a hospital ER in a pretty hot spot. She started talking about how all of this is BS in the late spring and that’s when I stopped following her on SM or talking with her because I just couldn’t with that denial BS. I just heard from a mutual friend that she is full on Qanon now and posts about going to the grocery store without a mask and hopes she inspires others to do the same a la Kerri Walsh Jennings. She has young kids that she is also indoctrinating with this stuff I’m told. This person used to be a very good friend of mine but like I said yesterday, people have literally changed before my eyes in the last year and it’s so effing depressing.

      • lola says:

        Oh God,those people terrify me! And I thought that I only know “normal” people, and was shocked that this isn’t the case and those conspiracy nutjobs are really everywhere.

      • JanetDR says:

        My sister in law is a nurse and she was posting a lot of anti mask crap last spring. I couldn’t believe it!

      • Moo says:

        I know a paramedic & firefighter in Trump country who says it feels like everyone he and his wife know have had COVID but nobody in the area wears a mask unless required and they regularly have gatherings. He knows it is real but thinks it’s blown out of proportion and doesn’t worry about it. He loves Trump.

        I went out there this weekend to visit my partner’s young adult kids. I was assured we’d eat outside and social distance. We ate outside, but I felt so uncomfortable when we were too close together and no one other than my partner and I social distanced or reliably wore a mask when not eating. My partner, normally a really smart guy who actually understands science, deluded himself into thinking that people were actually wearing masks the whole time and that he’s not really sure if masks work, anyway. He did not ask his kids to put on a mask or pull it up over the nose. I spelled it out for him that if his son had asymptomatic COVID he would be exposed and would need to quarantine. He knows masks are the best transmission prevention when we’re in the presence of others and I’m so disappointed that his desire to see his kids led him to his delusional idea that masks may or may not be needed. I am staying away from people for 14 days as a result of this experience. I’m still pissed!

    • Flamingo says:

      The priorities that some doctors have right now are crazy to me. My husband works for a university hospital in trauma, so halting elective procedures won’t impact on his job much, people will still get in car accidents, bones will still be broken. He took a pay cut in April as did most of the attendings. He has never once complained about sweating his ass off in what is basically a space suit every day or hosing himself off outside before I let him come in the house or making considerably less to do twice as much work as he was previously doing. Most doctors that he works with have the same mentality. However, he has several orthodod colleagues who work in private practice that are currently freaking out about their elective cases potentially being cancelled again if there is another statewide shut down. These are the same people who furloughed their entire staffs last spring, so that there would be minimum impact to their bottom line. What a travesty it would be if you don’t get to buy a new boat this year because those beds are being used for Covid patients.

      • Carol says:

        Couple things- I dont think its correct to put all doctors who are upset about not being able to do elective surgery as money-grubbing physicians who are only looking to fill their pocketbooks. There are some patients whose surgery needs are deemed “elective” but actually need surgery ie. Cancer patients. Also, it costs money to run a business. Furloughing staff is not something all doctors are happy to do. I know a couple doctors who had to do that in order to save their practice – and be able open their practice quickly when they are finally able to and be able to treat patients tgat have been waiting for covid to end.

    • Midge says:

      The pandumbic is more exhausting and stressful than the pandemic.

    • Traveler says:

      This is all so depressing. I’m dumbfounded that healthcare workers, the people we look to in our most vulnerable time of need, wouldn’t believe in the science or would put greed over life.
      I have lost faith in people. I don’t think I will ever get past the disappointment I have in so many people.
      I know you must be so burned out by now and I am deeply sorry you have to toil endlessly while others prioritize their selfish, petty needs. Thank you for the work that you do.

    • Millenial says:

      My husband works in a hospital that routinely has 60-100 Covid patients at a time. The things he tells me he sees the healthcare workers do are pretty horrifying – they all wear masks *in* the hospital, but at lunch they all sit grouped together masks off, are on social media attending parties, etc…

      You think they’d be the ones taking this seriously, but they are as bad as everyone else.

      • Moo says:

        Denial is an incredible salve. All the doctors I know are super careful. No life outside the hospital. They’re terrified of infecting partners and children if they have them, and are isolating on their own if they don’t have them.

    • Lizzythe2 says:

      Hugs ENIS. How awful that your own family does not believe you. Some people unfortunately will not believe until it happens to them. But now with this nurse’s story we may be seeing a completely different situation. The indoctrination of the cult of trump is stronger than we think. But I guess seeing the election results it really should not come as a shock to us.

      So sad.

  2. lana86 says:

    but Trump doesnt deny Covid, so how could his supporters deny it?… What’s the logic in their heads?

    • Ariel says:

      But when trump got it (and got treatment these americans don’t) he got better, told them he felt better than he had in 20 years, and told them not to let covid run their lives. Basically saying it is not a factor, and would not hurt them.
      Of course, they probably don’t believe that 700 people died as a direct result of his rallies.
      The mass delusion is murderous. If it didn’t also kill people who do understand and are taking precautions, at this point, i’d be tempted to say- let them all drink the poison kool aid they want so badly. Bye.

    • KL says:

      He absolutely denies Covid as an actual threat, even as he makes up racist nicknames for it. He kept claiming you “wouldn’t hear about it” after the election if Biden won, that the media was hugely misreporting the danger. So he doesn’t deny there’s a virus, he just denies its impact.

  3. Ann says:

    I work with patients over the phone for clerical and financial needs and I have been yelled at a few times. Recently a man berated me for a good 2 minutes about “China virus” and how I am a greedy liar who wants him to get sick with the “communist flu” so I can get more money from him. I just listened and finished helping him. Like this brave RN from SD I remember that conversation more than the hundreds I have weekly where people are polite and appreciative. I can’t imagine what front line workers have to deal with. When this is over all of us essential workers deserve a week long celebration with a parade led by Dr. Fauci.

    • Beana says:

      I was diagnosed with COVID yesterday (I’m an “essential” retail manager, I only went from work to home and did all the “right” protocols, still got it), and I just want to say THANK YOU! I couldn’t stop thanking the professionals at the clinic yesterday who tested me. I even said an automatic “Thank you” when they nose swabbed me (which really cracked one of them up) :-) , but seriously, I was so conscious in that moment that my sick germy self was endangering everyone I saw and they are HEROES to come to work every day and help people like me.
      So THANK YOU!! COVID is real, and people like you keep the world going.
      I’ve had my share of COVID deniers walking into our store without masking properly and it enrages me every time I think about it.

      • Ann says:

        Thank you too! Most people are so nice and appreciative, and it keeps us going when the aholes of the world come along.

      • Chaine says:

        I’m sorry you had people coming in the store selfishly putting you at risk. I hope you recover soon.

  4. Midge says:

    I am a “retired” healthcare worker who works in biotech. I came out of retirement to volunteer in an ICU in a Covid-only hospital in NYC during the peak. Last week, I was contacted by a temp placement agency to travel to the upper Midwest to help and I said no, but that I would help in NYC again if needed. I have felt guilty since the call, but I can’t put my life at risk for anti-masker, covid deniers. I feel so sorry for the hospital staff who have no choice, who have to face the unimaginable horrors of the virus shift after shift, and then go out into their communities and see the idiocy and dangerous behaviors that perpetuate this crisis.

    • schmootc says:

      Don’t feel guilty – you’ve already pitched in once and have decided on a level that you’re comfortable with. No one can save everyone.

    • Yup, Me says:

      Don’t feel badly. I have relatives living in the Midwest and they’ve been talking about the people who are out at bars and gathering like things are perfectly normal and hunky dory. You definitely do not need to put your life at risk for people engaged in that kind of foolishness.

  5. Becks1 says:

    This is so sad. I cant imagine being a front line worker in a time like this.

  6. Cassandra says:

    Yeahhhhhhh I’ve lost a lot of respect for the MDs/PAs/NPs that refuse to gown up and assess their Covid + patients in person all the while knowing their RN/CNA/RTs etc coworkers don’t have that choice. Not to mention environmental services who go in and disinfect the rooms.

    Then catching us in the hallway, asking questions, and using our assessment as their own. Fxxx off.

    A burnt out healthcare worker

  7. Veronica S. says:

    I’m impressed she still has sympathy for them, to be honest. At this point, I’m just the living manifestation of that Obama meme image “Then Perish.” If you’re still in denial at this point, there’s no hope for you.

    I see lots of therapy in the future for frontline workers. There’s no way a lot of these professionals aren’t going to come out of this without some level of PTSD.

  8. Pixelated says:

    What shocks me is that it’s SUCH a mixed bag.
    There are SO many people who don’t take it seriously, including those working in healthcare.
    My SO is a hospital admin and works with really high up MDs who often don’t mask and make their employees com in even though most can easily be virtual.
    On the flip side, one of my MD friends has to deal with anti mask, anti vaxx nutjobs all day.
    The lack of clear, concise information about Covid, because of Trump, is one of the catalysts. That and no funding/stimulus checks for those impacted.
    I can guarantee you that in the future, when we look back, we will be ashamed. If we just had a month long actual lockdown with money going to help those effected, we’d be so much better off. But no. Trump is a criminal.

  9. Pixelated says:

    Also…if anyone is shaming anyone for not spending the holidays together, just remember: one holiday season is a trade off for many more healthy ones.

  10. Gil says:

    So in history books we will talk about this as “the moment America died”. This is so sad for such a great country. Bless this woman that still has sympathy for the COVID denier nut jobs.

  11. grabbyhands says:

    She is a much better person than I am. Our healthcare workers are putting their lives on the line every single day and this far in when numbers are spiking all over the place, I’d be like “have a good time at home – I’m sure all that freedom is going to kick in and save you at any moment” and discharge them. I can’t imagine the strength it takes to keep caring for people who accuse you of making shit up as they are gasping for air – like how messed up is it that you would rather believe you had lung cancer??

  12. Mia4s says:

    I saw this comparison the other day sticking to North America examples, and it is gut wrenching how preventable much of this was with common sense.

    South Dakota has a population of 885,000 people, 11.3 people per square mile.

    The Canadian province of Nova Scotia has a population of 971,000, 45 people per square mile.

    Nova Scotia locked down for weeks (they have been “open” since June) during which time they provided government financial aid. They have mandated masks in every indoor public space. Gathering sizes are limited. A 14 day self-isolation is mandatory upon arriving in the province with few exceptions.

    South Dakota has had 66,278 cases of COVID so far and 644 deaths.

    Nova Scotia has had 1,146 cases of COVID and 65 deaths. But even then most of those deaths were from a tragic outbreak in one retirement care home. In the general public the death toll is…7.

    Good. god.

    Lesson? The South Dakota governor is a monster and science saves.

    • Wowza! That’s an interesting set of statistics. And a sad one for those of us in the USA. I had 2 in home service repair appointments in the last week. The first repairman and his apprentice showed up without masks. (I had a mask on when I opened door.) I asked them where their masks were and he said they didn’t have any. I told him the appointment was cancelled and I’d call the manager to reschedule…..he then said, oh the masks are in his truck. They wore masks but were mildly unpleasant. When the repair company called to confirm my second annual inspection, I told them the repairman must wear a mask or the appointment would be cancelled at the door. He showed up with an American flag bandana type mask down around his neck. I told him he could not come in the house unless he used the mask to cover his mouth and nose. Unfrigginbelievable! 🤷🏻‍♀️

  13. ClaireB says:

    The Republican party has a lot to answer for, both in their direct denial and incompetence in the pandemic, and in their decades-long defunding of education which has created a population of ignoramuses who are unable to think critically about anything their rulers tell them.

  14. Valerie says:

    This is pretty sad. They resort to the “just the flu” excuse even as they’re dying or growing seriously ill. If it’s “just” the flu, why are you in the hospital?

  15. khaveman says:

    Look, we all only have our health in this lifetime and it’s a precious commodity. If you deny/ignore science, then you get what you get, sorry. You can’t change some people’s minds. Go ahead and die! I have a different path for myself and that’s why I wear my mask and take CDC advice. “Drive defensively” so to speak and I wish the best for you.

  16. ChloeCat says:

    My friend has a friend who is a dentist. He’s a Trump supporter who says people who wear masks are liberal fascists. I’d like to know how his patients would feel about that. My friend got mad at me for calling him an asshole. I have a compromised immune system, I just can’t with idiots like this.

  17. Dara says:

    Watching South Dakota’s governor, I get the feeling she is auditioning to be the next Sarah Palin. Oof.

    • Kelly says:

      Kristi Noem certainly is ambitious to say the least.

      I lived in South Dakota when she was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, beating the incumbent moderate Democrat Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin who had voted for the ACA. Noem’s campaign very much played down the reality that she came from a family of very well off ranchers and farmers who have gotten millions over the years in federal agricultural subsidies and disaster relief. The campaign ad I remember most clearly that highlighted how well off they were was one about the estate taxes at the time of her father’s death. The reason they had a higher tax bill was because of how much his estate was worth, in the millions. Her campaign tried to spin that as the norm, not the exception. My former boss, an attorney who specializes in estate law, commented that her family wasn’t well prepared in that area. He was surprised that they didn’t have more of their assets in trusts.

      When she ran for governor in 2018, she wasn’t the party favorite. It wasn’t seen as her turn. My sense is that the other SD republicans aren’t going to forget anytime soon how she didn’t play by their rules and will eventually turn on her. She’s since handed out 6 figure state jobs to very unqualified family members. The state’s attorney general is under investigation currently for his role in a fatal hit and run that happened this fall when he was drunk driving.

  18. HeatherC says:

    As a nurse I know these people all too well. I’ve seen some check themselves out of the hospital because we were out to make money and they couldn’t have COVID because it didn’t exist only for them to appear back in my ER in respiratory failure. After going to the market, the hardware store, restaurants. It was equally heart breaking and frustrating. More than once I uncharitably wished I could deny care so I could go concentrate on my patient that believed in science, did everything right and still came down with COVID because of people like that.

    May and June were tough months for my family. We lost my dad, his brother and my grandfather (cancer, COVID-19 and end stage Alzheimer’s). We were looking forward to a large Thanksgiving to be together as a family after our reunion/memorial services gathering was cancelled in August. As a family, we need this. Desperately.

    But we’re not doing it in person. We’re doing it through Zoom, all at our individual houses, around our own turkeys and stuffings. The closest we’ll be together just never in person. I wish my aunt and my mom could sit back with some drinks and commiserate becoming widows after long marriages in the middle of a pandemic and cry it out. I wish my son could play with my late uncle’s dog.

    But my large extended Irish American family decided it was better to be separate for a holiday than be buried together.

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