The Story and Question I Can’t Shake from America’s Coronavirus Catastrophe

By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States nine months ago a refrain began; “we’re all in this together.”  But no sooner than it began did it become painfully obvious, that we were in fact not in this together.  We were divided, denying, and dying needlessly.

Rather than America pulling together and showing why it’s supposedly “the greatest country on Earth,” we became the worst county handling the pandemic. Our nation failed to create a unified strategic plan to fight COVID19, and half of us chose not to do things, so simple, so basic a first grader could understand and master them.

Claiming it imposes on their personal freedom, half the population refuses to wear a mask. Never mind, there are seat belts laws, speed limits, and  smoking is prohibited in aircraft by law all of which are designed for one’s own protection and the protection of others. They’ve refused to change their behavior for the good of the country because many of them believe COVID19 simply isn’t real.

In the beginning, I could sorta wrap my head around that because this kind of pandemic hasn’t happened in a century; people are uneducated; it takes time to sink in; they spend too much time on the internet, etc.  But I truly thought as the tragic reality grew, reaching deeper into all parts of the country, and sadly but inevitable COVID 19 infected their family and friends, they would come around.  Seeing is believing right?  Except when it’s not.

A week ago I saw a news story about a nurse on the frontline of the pandemic that I can’t shake.  Intellectually, I can’t begin to wrap my head around it and emotionally it has churned up a mixture of disgust, anger, heartbreak and compassion like I’ve never experienced.  Jodi Doering, a nurse in South Dakota posted about treating a COVID patient who on their deathbed, with their last gasps of breath said, “How can this be happening? COVID isn’t real.”

It would be one thing if it were a fluke, but according to Doering, it happens often.


If it happens in her hospital undoubtedly it happens in other hospitals in South Dakota; and if it’s happening in South Dakota then people are dying of COVID19 who believe it isn’t real in every state.  This begs the question I’ve been asking myself since I first heard this inexplicable story in the same week America passed 250K deaths from the coronavirus.

When 112 Americans testing are positive every minute and 83,000+ people are currently hospitalized with COVID19, we are again experiencing PPE shortages but now also widespread reports of hospitals at capacity and/or on the brink of collapse, and most notably, a growing shortage of healthcare workers, people pushed to their breaking point.  I keep ask myself,

Why are we wasting valuable, limited, and dwindling resources on people who on their deathbeds believe, “COVID isn’t real?”

If one denies COVID is real, obviously they would not and did not follow public health and safety guidelines to protect themself or anyone around them.  What’s more because they didn’t and got infected, they also became spreaders to everyone they came in contact with. Ergo COVID deniers are responsible for unimaginable suffering, countless hospitalizations and needless deaths.


It’s been nine months, yet one only need look around for themselves to see millions of our fellow Americans still refusing to wear a mask and/or social distance.  They won’t even do it for the love of their own families like NYC Council Member from Staten Island, Joe Borelli.

If/when he or his family gets sick after intentionally flaunting guidelines and welcoming COVID19 into their family gathering, someone tell me why precious healthcare resources and personnel should be used on any of them?

Healthcare professionals treat the patient in front of them including the drunk driver who hit the mother and her two kids just pronounced DOA in the same ER.  But the drunk driver would be arrested, charged and jailed for the deaths he caused in the accident.  When do we start holding COVID deniers and anti-maskers accountable to protect ourselves and help our Healthcare workers?

At this point, their behavior is like a driver in a car pulling up to a railroad crossing. They see the lights flashing and the gate down but drive around it anyway; then get hit by the oncoming train.  They have no one to blame but themselves.  The only sympathy I have is for the conductor, the engineer and anyone else on the train who didn’t ask for the disaster, in the case of COVID, our healthcare workers.

Who is looking out for them?  Who is caring for them?


Last spring, we clapped every evening; restaurants and businesses large and small sent meals and made PPE when our Government failed them and called healthcare workers Heroes. But for nine months now half of us haven’t  shown the slightest respect for the women and men in our healthcare system by doing the one thing they ask that would make their work and lives easier, wear a mask.

Can anyone tell me why our limited healthcare resources should be squandered on people who won’t even wear a fucking mask?

COVID 19 has and continues to disproportionately  affected our communities of color, due in large part to inadequate access to healthcare services and resources.  We could do better for them if doctors, nurses, and supplies were refocused on the underserved people of color desperately in need and not those hopelessly in denial and utterly selfish.


Finally, those currently poised and ready to protect “America under attack” in our streets with guns but won’t wear a mask, only care about shooting their guns. If they actually cared about protecting America, they’d want to stop the attack of COVID19 from killing another projected 200K of its citizens by wearing a mask.  Their refusal to come to the aid of the country they claim to love so dear has not only added to its national crisis but is multiplying it exponentially.  From the day America’s COVID19 crisis began, I wanted to believe “we’re all in this together;” but if that “isn’t real,” please tell me why we treat those aiding and abetting it like it is?


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