MSNBC reports that frontline healthcare workers in Appalachia, as well as in cities and towns across the nation, are reporting that despite increasing positivity rates in their communities, they regularly encounter covid-19 skepticism among their patients. Healthcare workers in these communities have been preparing for a pandemic for years, but what they couldn’t have anticipated is that they would also have to deal with people being in denial that the pandemic is happening, or that they could have gotten sick—even when they have tested positive for the virus and are getting sicker by the hour.
Heather White, a nurse at a hospital in Eastern Tennessee, says that many covid-19 skeptics who contract the virus seem shocked at how sick they can become.
“We have seen some that were skeptical beforehand. But now, an otherwise completely healthy thirty-some-year-old will come into the ER and be short of breath and not understand why.
I think once they get to the critical point, then I think it becomes more real to them. A lot of times if they just come in and they are just kind of on a few liters of oxygen at first, these patients decline very fast. And I think it’s almost... a shock to them, how sick they get and how quickly it happens. And I think at that point... it’s the only point where they realize this is something really serious.”
Not that we needed more evidence that the widespread misinformation about the covid-19 virus is deadly, but in addition to leading people to engage in unsafe behavior that puts them (and everyone they interact with) at an increased risk of contracting the virus, pandemic skepticism has also led many people to put off seeking medical care even after starting to show symptoms. And one person’s denial can have widespread ramifications within their household or even their entire community if they are unwilling to believe that they could be infecting others and continue to live their life as normal.
Please, I beg of you, wear fucking a mask.