A South Dakota nurse gained national attention this week for a tweet claiming that some of her dying coronavirus patients refuse to admit the virus is real.
Jodi Doering, a traveling nurse who lives in a small eastern South Dakota town, had Saturday night off of work and was at home eating ice cream on her couch when she posted a Twitter thread in which she said she couldn’t stop thinking about COVID-19 patients “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.”
She wrote that patients “gasping for breath” on a respiratory-support system “tell you there must be another reason they are sick . . . because they don’t have COVID because it’s not real.”
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
— Jodi Orth (@JodiOrth) November 15, 2020
“Yes. This really happens,” wrote Doering, who often tweets about the dangers of the virus, in addition to tweeting her support for left-wing causes such as the Black Lives Matter movement. Doering also is a regular Twitter critic of South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem and President Donald Trump, whom she has called a “jack hole” and a “f— stick.”
Her tweet about coronavirus denial — and the fear of a Joe Biden presidency gripping her dying patients — has been retweeted more than 71,000 times, and it led to a Monday interview on CNN’s New Day morning program. On CNN, Doering said her tweet wasn’t about one person, but rather a “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 Facetiming their families, they’re filled with anger and hatred.”
A South Dakota ER nurse @JodiDoering says her Covid-19 patients often “don’t want to believe that Covid is real.”
“Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real.’ And when they should be… Facetiming their families, they’re filled with anger and hatred.” pic.twitter.com/tgUgP6znAT
— New Day (@NewDay) November 16, 2020
That night, The Washington Post published a story about Doering’s claims. USA Today published its own version of the story on Tuesday. Both quoted from Doering’s tweet and from the CNN interview, but neither news organization appears to have interviewed Doering. Neither outlet reported making an effort to contact Doering or otherwise confirm the story.
Tuesday night, Doering tweeted that she had considered locking her Twitter account because of, “you know, death threats and stuff.” Instead, she decided to “get in my 2007 Impala with 207,000 miles on it, crank some Foo Fighters, and go to work.”
“Stay safe. Wear a mask,” she wrote. “And don’t be a Twitter Dick.”
National Review was unable to reach Doering on the phone or on Twitter for comment or to get a sense of how widespread she believes COVID denialism is among her patients.
South Dakota is a reliably Republican state where Trump received about 62 percent of the vote earlier this month. More than three quarters of the voters in Doering’s county voted for Trump.
There have been 644 deaths from COVID-19 in South Dakota, which currently has the nation’s highest positivity rate. Noem has publicly questioned the effectiveness of masks in slowing the virus’s spread, and has refused to institute a mask mandate as other states in the upper Midwest have done.
Kim Rieger, a spokeswoman for the Huron Regional Medical Center, one of the hospitals where Doering works, said that after Doering’s claims went viral she did an informal poll of about a half dozen other nurses who work at the hospital to see if they had similar experiences.
“No one else has gotten that statement back from a patient, specifically,” Rieger said about COVID denial. “Nor have they heard of that happening here. Not to call her a liar, because she provides care here as well as other hospitals, so it could have happened at another hospital.”
Rieger said that after reading Doering’s tweets, she felt horrible.
“I read these tweets, and, I think she was at her end,” Rieger said. “It might have been a better conversation for her girlfriends than Twitter.”
Nathan Johnson, a spokesman for the Avera Health System, which operates several hospitals in the region, said he hadn’t heard of any cases of COVID denial in the system, though he acknowledged that they haven’t conducted a formal poll of staff.
“Based on one informal conversation I had, a nurse leader said they had not heard anything like that taking place,” Johnson said. “But that is no comment on what Jodi claims she’s experienced, because we don’t have any insight into that.”
In her CNN interview, Doering noted that not all of her COVID-positive patients deny the existence of the virus. Many are thankful for the care they receive, she said.
“Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m remembering right now,” she said.
She insisted on CNN that protecting people from COVID-19 is not political for her.
“It’s frustrating as a health-care provider, because the last thing we ask anyone when they seek care is how they voted or if they’re a Democrat or a Republican,” she said. “The last thing we ever think about is that. What we think about is, how can I help you? So anybody who uses any chance to make this political, makes any health care provider want to scream.”