My brother died of COVID – Governor Lee’s failure to lead and protect Tennesseans

Please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Daphne Foust. I have been a physician assistant since 1988. I was raised in a very small town in western Tennessee and I have one sibling, Brett Tracy, who is 4 years older than I. We grew up like most kids in a small town with a few exceptions. We had grandparents that had a large farm with all of the farm animals and farm activities. We spent a great deal of time with them on the farm.

Daphne Foust
Foust Medical Clinic
Paris, TN

Our parents were both school teachers and we had a very busy life. Each of us had multiple activities and sports we participated in each year.

We grew up, graduated from high school, and off to college we went. My brother graduated and moved to Atlanta, GA to attend pharmacy school. He became a Pharm D and worked in retail for a while until he bought his own pharmacy. He worked night and day to build a very successful business.

I graduated a couple of years after he did and off to Atlanta, GA I went to pharmacy school. I had always wanted to be a doctor so I researched PA school and surprisingly was accepted to Emory University’s PA Program. I left Pharmacy School.

Over the years our careers and lives kept us apart most of the time. We did not see each other very often. Our last family gathering was his oldest son’s wedding about 4 years ago. We chatted on the phone on a regular basis about many things including caring for our mother. We last chatted about one week prior to the following events and he was upset about COVID19 disrupting his business, finances and day to day life.

I couldn’t convince him that COVID 19 was not a hoax.

We discussed the precautions he should take with his pharmacy but he said, “I’m not giving up my business without a fight and I am not convinced this COVID 19 thing is not a hoax.” Once again I begged him make the necessary changes but he was just upset. He must have had a bad day that day, or possibly he didn’t feel well already. He kept telling me how tired he was and how much he had to do. He got off the phone.

Some of the things I begged him to change included shutting the doors to the pharmacy, just open the drive through and start wearing masks and gloves. He felt this was infringing on his rights. He had worked a lot extra over the last couple of weeks because his relief pharmacist had gotten sick. He was afraid of losing all that he and his wife had worked so hard to build. She has a very successful pharmacy as well just down the road from his pharmacy.

Our life took a turn that was so unexpected on March 28th 2020. My brother became acutely ill and was taken to a local ER in Snellville, GA. He was in acute respiratory arrest. He was admitted, intubated and his wife was pushed out of the hospital within minutes of them getting his settled. Well, it was COVID19. He developed COVID19 ARDS. He was critically ill and we could not see him or talk to him.

I am at least 6 hours away. I spent several hours of each day talking with nurses and doctors to try and stay informed on his care and progress for the family. His wife tested positive and had to quarantine at home. One of his sons worked in the pharmacy with him and thinks he had COVID19 but never got tested. His youngest son just quarantined at home with just a mild cough and runny nose. He was never tested for COVID 19 but exposed and presumed positive.

My brother laid in a hospital bed from March 28, 2020 until April 14, 2020 when he passed away. His wife was allowed to be there when he passed away that afternoon. She barely made it to his side before he passed. This was simply unbelievable. How could this happen? You can not wrap your mind around such an event. His youngest son was scheduled to graduate from high school in May 2020. He will never see his grandchildren. His sweet wife lost her soulmate.

My brother was gone. I now had the responsibility of telling our 85-year-old mother that she had out lived her son.

This could have been a moment in our country when we had leadership that inspired all of us as Americans and Tennesseeans to pitch in, do our part to save each other, and get through this tough moment together.

Unfortunately, we did not have such leadership available to us.

Our President ignored the warnings and delayed any preparation that we could have made to meet this pandemic head on. Our governors were left with no guidance and the pandemic progressing rapidly. Some of the Governors jumped on the responsibility of making the appropriate changes, restrictions and availability of the proper equipment for our citizens and healthcare workers but some did nothing and Tennessee was one of those states.

Instead, Governor Bill Lee and President Trump knew the coronavirus was spreading in our state and country, but they refused to acknowledge the expertise of our doctors and health care experts. They did not follow the advice of CDC, WHO and NIH. They continued to ignore this situation and even called it a hoax. When you are the leader of the country and or our state you have a responsibility to protect your citizens. You should put their well being before any political agenda or economic opportunities. This pandemic was turned in to a political ploy and they spread misinformation- and now we have so many dead, things are getting worse daily.

They just insisted on opening up everything as fast as they could and now we are seeing the result of this decision. What is it going to take for our supposed leaders to see what is happening to our country. I wonder if one of their siblings died, or their mother or father or even their child died if they would see things any differently. I am appalled at their lack of response, empathy for humanity and plain disregard for human life.

We are healthcare workers. We put our lives on the back burner to care for patients everyday we show up for work. We took an oath and I feel we should remember that oath and be true to our commitment.

It is a difficult time for everyone but no one knows the day to day fears, bravery, dedication and heroic measures our healthcare workers perform to assist others knowing their lives and the lives of their loved ones could be at stake. Until you walk in the shoes of one of these people you can not imagine what they go through to make sure their patients are safe, cared for and treated properly.