South Dakota nurse says patients deny COVID-19 is real as it kills them

Coronavirus Outbreak

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELOLAND/NEXSTAR) – Medical professionals across South Dakota are beginning to speak out about the severity of the pandemic in their state. One emergency room nurse says the patients “that stick out are those who still don’t believe the virus is real.”

Jodi Doering wrote in a tweet thread that she sees sick patients who deny the existence of the virus—even while on their deathbed. Her frustration with dying people refusing to believe in COVID-19 went viral. Doering has been a nurse for two decades, and says she hopes it can help people take pandemic seriously.

“If my five minutes of Twitter fame can help our state and bring some recognition to convince people this is real and the reality is it might kill you, then I guess I’m just going to ride it and go with it,” Doering said.

Kennecke: Your Tweets indicate to me that you were feeling overwhelmed.
Doering: Yeah, the ones I couldn’t stop thinking about are the ones who think that it’s not real. And their dying breaths are literally, find out what’s wrong with me. And you say it’s COVID and people say, ‘No, that can’t be it.’ I just, I was, I was very sad and bummed out and frustrated and irritated.

Jodi Doering, traveling ER Nurse

Doering is a traveling nurse who works in several rural ERs. She says small hospitals are now being forced to take on a whole new role.

“Usually you could call for a bed in Sioux Falls and Rapid City and we would just transfer those patients. And now the reality is because of the number of patients, we’re hanging on to them,” Doering said.

Doering lives in Woonsocket and points out the current South Dakota death toll of 644 is nearly the entire population of the town.

“That is like taking the entire town off the map. Every teacher, every banker, every kid that goes to school—gone.”

Doering has seen fellow medical professionals leave the field because of the stress. She’s currently working side-by-side with her daughter, who recently started as an LPN.

“I said to my daughter, you have more courage than most of the elected officials around because you’re 20 years old and you suit up every day and go in and do this.

Mother-daughter duo: Jodi and Abby Doering working on the front lines of the pandemic

Doering says the unpredictability of the virus should not be downplayed.

“This is probably the worst thing we’ll ever live through in our lifetime and what really hard is when people have really mild symptoms and then tell all their friends and neighbors it’s no big deal and this is nothing and the next time you turn around you have a 40 to 50 year old who is not going to survive with the same virus. And there’s absolutely nothing worse in my 22-year-career than doing a goodbye by FaceTime,” Doering said.

Doering says she understands people are sick and tired of the pandemic and no one feels that way more than health care workers.

But she says, now more than ever, people need to understand the seriousness of it and take the appropriate actions to prevent its spread.

Governor Kristi Noem has steadfastly taken a hands-off approach to the virus, even in the face of a rapidly accelerating death total – South Dakota reached 219 deaths in November alone, roughly a third of the state’s total deaths since the start of the pandemic.

On Monday, Noem’s Communications Director Ian Fury said in a statement, “She’ll continue trusting South Dakotans to exercise their personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones.”

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