illustrative: three doctors walk toward the camera

On Twitter, a Jewish doctor in Sacramento tells what it’s like to treat a Covid patient covered in Nazi tattoos

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Dr. Taylor Nichols looked at the Covid-19 patient in front of him who was struggling to breathe. As he made preparations to provide emergency medical treatment, he paused. The man was covered in Nazi tattoos.

“Don’t let me die, doc,” the man said to Nichols, breathlessly.

On Monday, Nichols told the story on Twitter, and it spread across the platform, gathering thousands of responses, retweets and “likes” — about 160,000 combined by Tuesday afternoon.

Nichols, a Jewish emergency medicine physician in Sacramento, said he has seen and cared for patients with similar tattoos many times throughout his career, but this was the first time he recognized his ambivalence.

In his tweets, Nichols reflected on why the heightened risk associated with the pandemic impacted his response to the tattoos.

He explained that unprecedented fear and uncertainty, as well as many Americans’ rejection of science and Covid-19 safety measures, has taken a toll on him and other healthcare workers on the frontlines.

Nichols said the pandemic has worn on him. But despite his frustration and moment of hesitancy, he and his team worked seamlessly to give the patient the best chance to survive.

In his final tweets, Nichols expressed his feelings of vulnerability.

Nichols has received an overwhelming amount of support from people on Twitter, some of whom are healthcare workers themselves, and some who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. However, some have criticized Nichols for admitting to letting his “personal bias” affect his work, even if it was just a thought.

The Forward has reached out to Nichols, but did not receive an immediate response.

Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown is an intern at the Forward.


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