Let's start with Jodi Doering's night off from her job as an ER nurse in South Dakota... "I have a night off from the hospital. As I'm on my couch with my dog I can't help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who still don't believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm. 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. Yes. This really happens. And I can't stop thinking about it. 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 f-cking horror movie that never ends. There's no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again. Which is what I will do for the next three nights. But tonight. It's me and Cliff and Oreo ice cream. And how ironic I have on my 'home' Hoodie. The South Dakota I love seems far away right now..." These people have Covid and are dying in hospital rooms, while denying Covid is real, and arguing this is some Dem plot and the whole world is rigged. Their psychic fantasy, a defense against the abyss of despair, humiliation and nihilism, will live until their body dies. It's really impossible to overstate how dangerous this level of misinformation is, especially during a pandemic; when the actions of a deluded few can lead to the deaths of an enlightened many. And it's worth noting that if staring truth in the face in a South Dakota ER won't change their minds, you can be sure yelling at them on social media won't work.
This text describes a series of tweets posted 11/14/2020 by Jodi Doering, a nurse in South Dakota, who, on her night off, describes her working conditions in hospital with patients dying due to Covid-19 who deny it is real. Jodi's tweets were posted on Dave Pell's newletters "NextDraft" (https://nextdraft.com/archives/n20201116/).
I am struck by the experiences of health care workers, who have been working in conditions of relentless emergency, under enormous physical and mental health risks for the past 8 months. The illogic of Covid-19 is striking and prevalent in multiple stories and is spread and perpetuated by some health care workers and hospital administrations themselves.
I am interested of thinking through these disjunctions as discursive gaps and/discursive risks (Fortun). What does it mean die of a hoax? How can we describe a positionality or the system that enables this logical? Is this specific to this pandemic?