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I am a physician who worked on the frontlines in Kansas. My family is Native American, but we did not realize until it was too late that we were especially vulnerable. In July, during the COVID surge, my niece and two brothers tested positive for COVID. My brother, Cisco, spent almost a month in the hospital. Sadly, we lost my brother Robert, at age 55. He was vibrant, vital and full of life. He had just started a new job as a supervisor working for the US Census.

In April 2020, I became very stressed with my hospital job, with people in Kansas not taking COVID seriously, with my daughter being in remote learning. I removed myself from the sibling group text, and forgot to put myself back on. I will regret that forever. I put myself back on July 20, the day they all got their positive COVID results, but I had not known about the 5 days of symptoms prior to those test results. I was able to reach Cisco’s doctor and advise him to put Cisco on remdesivir and dexamethasone, giving exact dosages, etc. The doctors in Texas were dealing with their first surge; I feel certain this helped us (barely) get our positive outcome. Roberto was in a different hospital, different doctors. He went in the hospital two days before he died, was discharged on day later, and then died the following day on the way back to the hospital. For me, the pandemic will always be that 15 minute zoom funeral. I never got to speak to Roberto again. My heart breaks every day about my decision to get off the sibling group text.

– Micaela Wexler, Kansas