In August, just before the wave of positive cases began growing, Gove County leaders mandated everyone wear masks in public. They were forced to remove it two weeks later after a series of angry confrontations with their constituents. Around the same time, someone anonymously reported the county’s COVID-19 information Facebook page as spam or fake news, and it was temporarily taken offline just as public officials were trying to warn residents of the danger.
The first two deaths were reported on Oct. 7, setting off a wave of concern among public health officials and county managers. By Oct. 13, seven people had died, six of them inside the nursing home.
Some community leaders remain concerned their neighbors still aren’t taking the pandemic seriously.
“We are living through history right now, and I worry what the history books will say about us,” says Ericka Nicholson, 47, who helps run the town’s volunteer ambulance service and survived the infection.