WOONSOCKET, S.D. (Gray News) - A South Dakota nurse is encouraging state residents to wear masks and implement social distancing measures, even as the governor says she has no plans to issue a mask mandate.
Registered emergency room nurse Jodi Doering, who is on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in South Dakota, came to national attention due to a series of tweets she posted Saturday. In them, she talked about patients who “still don’t believe the virus is real,” even as they are suffering from it.
“I can’t stop thinking about it. These people really think this isn’t going to happen to them,” Doering wrote.
Doering told CNN in an interview that in her position as a nurse, she tries to reason with dying patients who don’t believe they have COVID-19, asking if they want to talk to family, but often, they refuse. She says that even after positive test results, some people don’t believe they have the coronavirus, saying it’s influenza, pneumonia or even lung cancer instead.
“I think the hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else, and they want a magic answer. They don’t want to believe that COVID is real,” Doering said. “When they should be spending time FaceTiming their families, they’re filled with anger and hatred, and it just made me really sad the other night. I just can’t believe that those are gonna be their last thoughts and words.”
The nurse also says she is frustrated by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem’s approach to the pandemic, which she views as politically-motivated. She is specifically upset she has not implemented a mask mandate in the state.
Doering says healthcare professionals need help from the public to improve the situation, which she describes as being like a “horror movie that never ends.” She encourages everyone to use masks and social distancing measures.
South Dakota has reported 219 deaths from COVID-19 in November — about a third of all its deaths over the course of the pandemic, according to the Associated Press. The state is at the top of the nation in deaths per capita this month.