It was the call Lance Hansen, gravely ill with liver disease, had been waiting weeks for, and it came just before midnight in late April. A liver was available for him. He got up to get dressed for the three-hour drive to San Francisco for the transplant surgery.
And then he panicked.
“Within five minutes after hanging up, he started hyperventilating,” his wife, Carmen, said. “He kept saying: ‘I’m going to get Covid, and then I’m going to die. And if I die, I want my family there.’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”
She promised she would wait outside the hospital, as patients’ families were barred from entering. She warned that he might not get another chance at a new liver before it was too late. She told him he could die if he didn’t go. Still, Mr. Hansen, 59, refused.
In a world seeded with anxiety, fear