SIOUX FALLS, SD (AP) – With coronavirus infections raging in Dakotas and elected leaders refusing to intervene vigorously, the burden of driving people to be serious with the virus has increasingly placed on the families of those who died.
The number of people who know what it means to lose their loved one to COVID-19 is increasing. North Dakota and South Dakota had the nation’s worst death per capita rates in the past 30 days. Despite advances in the treatment of patients with COVID-19, hundreds have died in recent weeks compared to any other period – a grim exclamation of a viral outbreak that has hit the Plains. North and Upper Midwest.
In Dakotas, the virus showed some signs of slowing down. With winter approaching and hospitals scrambling for room for COVID-19 patients, health experts are concerned that viral mortality will continue to rise in an area where people are slow to adopt Mitigation measures such as wearing a mask. The Republican governors of both states opposed government orders to help stem the outbreak, based on the ideology of a limited government.
Deaths drew closer and closer to home among closely related communities: a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fargo; a former school principal at De Smet; an elementary school employee in Sioux Falls; a North Dakota state legislative candidate.
Chris Bjorkman, who lost her husband, Mr. John Bjorkman, 66, said: “Sometimes I think it’s not true.“ Sometimes I think he will walk through the door, but he hasn’t come yet, so I am continue to wait. “
Bjorkman’s family, who live in De Smet, a town in southeastern Dakota where Laura Ingalls Wilder once had a farm, decided to publicly share his struggles with the virus because he loves serving the community. . After working as a teacher and school manager, Bjorkman was a popular figure, remembered for his cheerful and caring personality for children.
“I want people to know what COVID can do and how serious it can be,” said Chris Bjorkman.
His family went through a period of crisis facing the healthcare system when John Bjorkman was taken to hospital in Minnesota after his condition worsened. The family posted regular updates on Facebook when he was transferred to the intensive care unit in Sioux Falls and was put on a ventilator.
Doctors aren’t sure how many more cases they can handle like Bjorkman.
Dr. Michael Pietila, key care physician at the Yankton Medical Clinic, said: “At the moment, we are going in a direction that dominates our healthcare systems and I think that’s close to what. People understand better ”.
The hospital system in Dakotas is a complex network of important outreach facilities in rural areas and small hospitals that depend on referral of patients to some of the major hospitals in the region.
The rush of virus patients has caused mental and physical stress to the hospital staff, even as they try to avoid infection. In his interview with the Associated Press, Pietila was interrupted by the ping of an email announcing that several hospital staff had tested positive for the virus.
“COVID patients come and they have been sick for a long time – weeks in a row,” he said. “A lot of these COVID patients don’t get better. There is a lot of sadness. “
North Dakota reported that 309 people died of COVID-19 in the past 30 days, more than all other stages combined. According to data from Johns Hopkins, the state ranks first in the nation in the number of deaths per capita in the past 30 days, with about 41 deaths per 100,000 people. On Saturday, North Dakota reported 15 more deaths and 1,615 new cases statewide.
South Dakota reported 252 deaths, a 98% increase in the past 30 days. It has had a death rate of about 29 per 100,000 in the past 30 days, according to Johns Hopkins data. On Saturday, the state recorded an additional 13 deaths out of 1,337 new COVID-19 infections.
“The destruction I am seeing from everyone is amazing,” said Mike Henriksen, a sports television station in South Dakota who knew five people had died. “If we were simply looking for each other, we could greatly stop this.”
The severity of the situation in Dakotas has worried health professionals across the country, such as Dr. Ashish K. Jha, principal of the Brown School of Public Health. He calls Dakotas a “cautionary tale” about the consequences of ignoring virus science and public health initiatives.
Jha noted that the area began to experience steep climbs after the Sturgis Motorcycle Race in South Dakota, a two-week event that attracted nearly 500,000 people. According to Jha, as the number of infections is increasing, it becomes more and more difficult to control the spread.
“It’s a very fast freight train and it will take a lot of effort to stop it,” he said.
Doctors are stunned that they are still working to persuade people to take precautions.
Dr Jawad Nazir, clinical professor at the Medical College of South Dakota, said: “When I went out and didn’t see a large number of people wearing masks, it really worried me. “This won’t go away.”
During a tour of Bismarck, North Dakota, on October 26, Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, shook her head at what she found, saying she saw little use of the mask than anywhere else she was in the country.
However, the governors of both states have made it clear that they will not issue masked missions.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who recently won re-election, is respecting what he calls “light touch of government” and encouraging people to voluntarily wear a veil. He also refuses to enforce limits on social gatherings and business.
In South Dakota, Noem doubted whether wearing a mask in public would be effective, saying she would let everyone decide. She said it was impossible to stop the virus. The state’s largest medical groups recently launched a campaign to make it clear that masks work.
Many people who have experienced COVID-19 firsthand, including Republicans, are calling on the government to do more.
North Dakota’s House speaker, Republican Rep. Bismarck, Lawrence Klemin, spent four days at the hospital bed of her 99-year-old mother, “holding her hand and watching her die” from COVID-19. Klemin says masking needs to be done.
“It’s really a tough thing to go through,” Klemin said of his mother’s death. “I don’t want that to happen to anyone.”
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