Deshawn Lee, Patient Transporter, December 2020



Deshawn Lee, Patient Transporter, December 2020


Oral history, Patient transporter Deshawn Lee. Milwaukee, Wis.




December 8, 2020


Westley Hart


Alexis Polencheck


The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, was first officially reported on December 31, 2019 by Chinese officials in Wuhan, China. Since then, the lives of people around the world have been dramatically transformed as the world’s population fights one of the deadliest and most contagious pandemics of modern history. Archivists of all different backgrounds quickly began engaging in what is known as rapid-response collecting—the archiving of historically important, donated artifacts and the collection of oral accounts from volunteer witnesses. Milwaukee resident Deshawn Lee was willing to sit down with Westley Hart, a student at UW-Eau Claire, and participate in the university’s effort, in collaboration with the Journal of the Plague Year Archive as well as the Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Archive Project, to engage in rapid-response collecting of oral histories from the Upper Midwest region. Deshawn comes in direct contact with the virus every day as he works, transporting patients from place to place at Froedtert Hospital and Medical College. He is also a hard-working student, pursuing a career in counseling while raising his 1-year-old daughter together with his girlfriend on the south side of Milwaukee. The purpose of this interview is to document the dynamic impacts that the coronavirus pandemic has had on Americans in the year 2020, particularly those of the Upper Midwest. His account touches on his personal interactions with the virus in work, school, and public, the actions that his local government have taken in response to the virus, as well as the virus’s interaction with the nation-wide public protests that followed a series of high-profile police brutality tragedies, with an interest on the impact felt by his local Milwaukee community.

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