Dr. Tom Dean shares rural perspective on Covid

For Dr. Tom Dean, what began with a single Associated Press interview about COVID-19 spikes in rural communities has quickly snowballed into regular national — and soon to be international — media appearance requests from newspapers, radio and television outlets. Already featured on NPR's On Point, a podcast with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, NBC Nightly News, CNN, CNBC, CBS, The Today Show and the Washington Post to name a few, later this week a reporter from French daily newspaper of record, Le Monde, is flying to South Dakota and traveling to Wessington Springs to interview the longtime Jerauld County Family Physician. 

“It just doesn’t stop,” Dr. Dean said, somewhat incredulously. “My take on it, is that the various media folks have worked the Covid story as much as they can and the rural angle is a little different perspective. Early on we thought it was a big city disease and all of a sudden we see where South Dakota and North Dakota are the worst places in the country. I think it’s now clear it’s not just a big city disease and they want to try and figure it out.”

A regular columnist on the topic of Covid in the True Dakotan, Dr. Dean frequently shares best practices according to medical experts in both the pages of this newspaper as well as some of the more prestigious previously mentioned publications and programs. 

Whether it’s in his weekly columns or on national news, one frustration continues to plague him: “How to mobilize the kind of effort to get this under control is definitely still a challenge.” 

At press deadline Tuesday, November 17, the South Dakota Department of Health reported the following Covid-19 numbers for Jerauld County: Currently Active, 52; Total Positive, 221; Total Negative, 414; Total recovered, 156; Ever hospitalized, 13; Deaths, 13; Community Spread: Substantial; RT-PCR Test Positivity: 29.55%.

Local Nurse’s Tweet Goes Viral 

Local, traveling nurse and Alpena native, Jodi Orth-Doering, currently of Woonsocket, took to Twitter over the weekend during a night off after facing frustrations convincing some critically ill patients that they really do have COVID-19: “... 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...”

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 and spoke about her experience and frustrations working the frontlines, especially with virus nonbelievers. 

During the interview, she told Camerota: “At the end of the day, we (health care providers) 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.”