Jodi Doering, a registered nurse based in Woonsocket, South Dakota, had a thread of tweets go viral over the weekend describing the scene inside the emergency room.
Among the tweets, Doering said, “These people really think this isn’t going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It’s like a (expletive) horror movie that never ends. There’s no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again.”
On Saturday, South Dakota reported a state record of 53 coronavirus-related deaths. The state has a population of 884,000, which is roughly one-tenth the size of New York City. At its worse, New York City was experiencing nearly 700 coronavirus-related deaths per day.
According to the COVID Tracking Project, there are nearly 560 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in South Dakota hospitals. Nearly one in 1,600 of all South Dakotans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
In a Monday interview with CNN, Doering described her frustration.
“I think the hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else and they want a magic answer and they don't want to believe that COVID is real,” Doering said. “And the reason I tweeted what I did is that it wasn't one particular patient, it's just a culmination of so many people. And their last dying words are, this can't be happening. It's not real. And when they should be spending time face timing their families, they're filled with anger and hatred and it just made me really sad the other night and I just can't believe those are going to be their last thoughts and words.”
Doering said that nurses are meant to be a last line of defense, and that things like social distancing and masks should be utilized.
“There's a thing on the internet right now that says, ‘I'm not your first line of defense, I'm your last,’” Doering said. “And that actually is true in South Dakota. That by the time you get to me and the team that we work with, it might be too late for some. And that is heartbreaking.”
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has resisted implementing mask mandates, even as other conservative governors have relented in recent weeks. Noem's press secretary Ian Fury told the Angus Leader in Sioux Falls that the governor would defy any nationwide mask mandate if implemented by the Biden administration.
"It's a good day for freedom. Joe Biden realizes that the president doesn't have the authority to institute a mask mandate," Fury said. "For that matter, neither does Governor Noem, which is why she has provided her citizens with the full scope of the science and trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones."