Los Angeles Times

American pandemic: A preacher, a nurse and a firefighter take on COVID

It was still dark when the Rev. Albert Mann stepped outside his trailer home, looked to the sky and prayed for the dying to end.

He climbed into his white pickup — refuge from the Florida mosquitos — as he prepared for his sermon.

"Please, God," he said. "Let us get out of this pandemic."

Halfway across the country in North Dakota, Nikole Hoggarth rose before the sun and let out the dog, careful not to wake her husband or the six children who still lived at home. Her nurse's uniform was laid out in the bathroom.

She grabbed a chocolate shake for the road and set off for the 50-minute drive to the hospital. Country music helped clear her head.

Meanwhile in Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, Fire Capt. Daniel Soto reported to Station 16 just outside downtown and pointed an electronic thermometer at his temple.

Ninety-nine — high enough to send him home under the department's coronavirus precautions.

He took his temperature again and passed.

So began Nov. 22, a Sunday, exactly 307 days since the first coronavirus case was diagnosed in the United States.

The nation's death toll stood at 257,117 — more than drug overdoses, breast cancer, suicide and diabetes combined for any recent year. Only heart disease, the nation's leading cause of death, kills more people.

The first surge of

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