In an article published by Bloomberg today, famed journalist Michael Lewis — author of Moneyball, The Big Short and The Fifth Risk, amongst other notable works — writes about his recent surprising visit to, of all places, Humboldt County’s Public Health department. The piece is certainly worth a read. You can check it out here.
Much of the article centers around Lewis’s conversations with public health nurse Erica Dykehouse who goes into great detail about the long work days she’s put in to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19 locally. The overall picture she paints is not all that comforting. Even as confirmed cases rise, she says that the infected and potentially infected people she contacts are decreasingly willing to help her or heed her advice.
“A lot of these people are getting their medical information off Facebook,” Dykehouse tells Lewis. Another unnamed public health employee described Humboldt’s recent increase in coronavirus cases soberingly saying, “We feel like we’re losing control of the situation. People are getting it and we don’t know where.”
Dykehouse shared a few stories concerning possible Humboldt coronavirus cases that we’ll quickly share here:
Two cases stuck in Erica’s mind. One was a couple in their 70s, both possibly contagious. She’d found them, told them to quarantine, and they had turned right around and hosted a big Fourth of July BBQ. When she tried to contact guests who might have been infected, she found them either dismissive or outright rude. “You have these whole little social networks that are hostile,” she said. “Most of the time they are polite enough just to hang up. But I’m trying to develop a thick skin.”
The other case that stuck in her head was the meth dealer. The Public Health nurses had gotten to him soon after he’d been infected and, though he was dismissive of their advice, said he would isolate himself. Erica suspected he was still sneaking out at night, and her suspicion was confirmed when he infected a buddy of his, who in turn infected his daughter-in-law. The buddy’s daughter-in-law, who had no symptoms, went to her job at Alder Bay Assisted Living, a nursing home in Eureka. More than a dozen staff members and residents became infected. Four died.
Read Lewis’s full article: “Confessions of a California COVID Nurse”