November 17, 2020

Jodi Doering is an emergency room nurse in South Dakota. She lives in a town with 650 people.

On Saturday, she was home from work and decided to tweet about how she was feeling. Little did she know how that tweet would become viral and how she would eventually share her terrifying story on CNN.

Here’s what Doering tweeted:

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 (g)oing 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 (expletive) 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.

Forty-eight hours later, Doering’s tweet had more than 218,000 likes and more than 50,000 retweets. On Monday, she was interviewed on CNN’s “New Day” by Alisyn Camerota.

The “New Day” clip is astonishingly sad as Doering repeated her horror stories of patients not believing that COVID-19 was real even as they lay dying from it. Doering told Camerota that it wasn’t one person who behaved this way, but a “culmination of so many people.”

“Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening to me, it’s not real,’” Doering said on the air. “And when they should be spending time FaceTiming with their families, they’re filled with anger and hatred. … I just can’t believe those are going to be their last thoughts and words.”

Doering said nurses talk to patients, asking if they want them to call their spouses, or siblings, or children, or friends, but the patients say no because they believe they will be OK. Patients there have said it couldn’t be COVID-19, and that it’s either the flu, or pneumonia or even lung cancer. Anything but COVID.

“Even after positive results come back, some people just don’t believe it,” Doering said.

Doering said not every patient is like that, but enough that the deniers are the ones she most remembers.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza notes that South Dakota is averaging more than 1,000 coronavirus cases every day this month and Forbes just called South Dakota one of the 10 riskiest states to visit. Yet South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said this in a statement on Friday: “It’s a good day for freedom. Joe Biden realizes that the president doesn’t have the authority to institute a mask mandate. 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.”

In a newspaper op-ed last month, Noem defended the state’s approach to COVID-19, which hasn’t included a stay-at-home order and left mask-wearing up to the individuals. Noem wrote, “As I’ve said before, if folks want to wear a mask, they should be free to do so. Similarly, those who don’t want to wear a mask shouldn’t be shamed into wearing one. And government should not mandate it. We need to respect each other’s decisions — in South Dakota, we know a little common courtesy can go a long way.”

What appears to be going a long way is the spread of COVID-19 in South Dakota.

Cillizza wrote, “Leadership isn’t telling people what they want to hear. In moments like this, it’s telling people hard truths — even if you know that it might hurt you politically. Noem is putting politics over public health, which, well, puts her right in line with how Trump has handled this entire pandemic.”

Which brings us back to Doering. Camerota asked Doering, “When you hear your governor, Kristi Noem, say, ‘My people are happy. They’re happy because they are free.’ What’s your response?”

Doering said it’s frustrating because health care providers don’t care who their patients voted for or what political party they belong to.

“The last thing we ever think about is that,” Doering said. “What we think about it is, ‘How can I help you?’ And so anybody who uses any chance to make this political makes any health care provider want to scream. Because at the end of the day, we just want to help. And if we don’t get some help from the public as far as mask-wearing and social distancing … there’s a thing on the internet right now that says, ‘I’m not your first line of defense, I’m your last.’ And that actually is true in South Dakota.”

It was a sobering tweet and an even more disturbing interview.

But all of it was absolutely necessary and must-see. Watch it.

Hopeful signs?

(John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx)

A week after Pfizer, along with its German partner BioNTech, announced data that showed their vaccine had a 90% effective rate against the coronavirus, another drugmaker had more hopeful news Monday. Moderna announced its vaccine was 94.5% effective.

Here’s where media and media consumption become crucial. What does it all mean?

The New York Times’ Denise Grady wrote, “But a vaccine that would be widely available to the public is still months away, while the need for one is growing increasingly urgent.” The Washington Post’s Carolyn Y. Johnson wrote, “At a briefing Monday, government officials predicted that if the two vaccines receive a regulatory greenlight, the first shots could be given in December, with enough to vaccinate 20 million people that month — and more becoming available into 2021 as production ramps up and other vaccine candidates may be successful.”

Again, what does it all mean?

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” “Once we get these vaccines in sufficient qualities heading in 2021, the combination of the fact that a lot of the population will have already had COVID, combined with the fact that we’ll be vaccinating the public with a highly effective vaccine, we could effectively end this pandemic in 2021 with our technology.”

Read this

Anytime Ed Yong writes about the coronavirus for The Atlantic, it is a must-read. In his latest piece — “No One is Listening To Us” — the subhead reads, “More people than ever are hospitalized with COVID-19. Health-care workers can’t go on like this.”


The WW Higher Education Media Fellowship supports U.S. journalists interested in learning more about and covering issues related to post-secondary career and technical education (CTE). The Fellowship is a six-month, non-residential reporting fellowship which includes $10,000 in funding. Applications are open through December 11.

The facts about QAnon

The Pew Research Center has a new study out: “5 Facts About The QAnon Conspiracy Theories.”

The five facts:

  • Americans’ awareness of the conspiracy theories called QAnon increased dramatically from early to late 2020.
  • Americans with high political knowledge are more likely than others to have heard of the conspiracy theories.
  • The majority of Americans who have heard of QAnon think it’s a bad thing for the country.
  • When asked to describe QAnon, people most often mentioned that it was a group of some kind (41%) or a conspiracy group or theory (44%).
  • A separate content study of YouTube by Pew found that in December 2019, mentions of “QAnon” were concentrated in a very small number of the most viewed news channels.

These are just the categories. Be sure to check out this informative piece for more of the details.

A special “20/20” about Breonna Taylor

A mural of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

ABC News and The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, have combined for a special two-hour “20/20” about the Breonna Taylor case. The special will air Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern. The special includes 911 calls, interrogation tapes, surveillance photos and hundreds of pages of police records. Taylor was the 26-year-old aspiring nurse who was shot and killed by police who stormed into her apartment during a no-knock search warrant.

The special includes “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan interviewing Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, an officer involved in the shooting, and ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts interviewing Taylor’s mother and sister. There also will be interviews with Taylor’s boyfriend, her ex-boyfriend, as well as rare footage from that night.

Here’s a trailer for the special.

A big Little deal

Fox Sports has named Jamie Little the play-by-play announcer for the ARCA Menards Series, making her the first woman to become the TV voice of a national motorsports series. As The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch points out, Little is used to making broadcasting history. Sixteen years ago she became the first female pit reporter for the TV broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 and five years ago, she became the first woman to serve as a pit reporter for the network television coverage of both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500. Little’s first race as play-by-play announcer will be Feb. 13.

In a statement, Little said, “Although I’ve always preferred to be viewed as a motorsports broadcaster and not solely as a female broadcaster, it is an honor to be the first in this role. I definitely don’t take for granted being the first at anything. I know it can open other opportunities for women in the future, and I hope younger girls aspiring to cover racing see the sky is the limit.”

Media tidbits

  • Caitlin Dickerson, who covers immigration for The New York Times, announced on Twitter on Monday that she will be joining The Atlantic next year to cover immigration. Dickerson has been at the Times for four years and was at NPR before that.
  • The Washington Post has named James Hohmann a columnist for the Opinions section. He starts in February. Hohman, a national political correspondent for the Post, will write columns on topics including politics and policy.

Hot type

USA Today’s Kenny Jacoby, Nancy Armour and Jessica Luther with this disturbing story: “LSU Mishandled Sexual Misconduct Complaints Against Students, Including Top Athletes.”

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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