Monday, June 1, 2020

An Unsolved Case

Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Candidate Recounts a Confounding COVID-19 Experience

Georgia lawyer Jason Hasty unfurls a knotted story of contracting the coronavirus — and with it, social media persecution — in an exclusive Uncommon Journalism interview

By: James Swift

The narrative told by Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney candidate Jason Hasty is no doubt a fascinating one.

What’s known for sure is that the 54-year-old Martinez, Georgia attorney was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year. As to how he contracted the disease, however, remains a mystery.

Was he infected at a worship service in Bartow County in early March, where dozens of churchgoers likewise contracted the coronavirus in one of the state’s most severe “super-spreader” incidents?

Or did he acquire the disease from his terminally ill father, who displayed an array of strange symptoms at a hospice facility in Cobb County?

“My mom was extracting from the back of my dad’s throat, it was a green-looking worm or spaghetti-looking stuff,” he recalled. “The nurse said ‘I don’t know what that is.’”

Adding another layer of intrigue to the story, Hasty claims that, since then, his late, leukemia-stricken father’s medical records have been destroyed.

But perhaps his exposure to the disease was even earlier than that — he recounts a meeting in February with a homeless defendant from Richmond County who appeared to be deathly sick.

“The jailers in the courthouse, they didn’t want to bring him out,” Hasty recalled. “He was slumped down in his wheelchair, his mask was half off … he just looked horrible.”

In between those incidents there were funerals, trips to Louisiana and a visit to the State Capitol in Atlanta to turn in election qualification paperwork — where Hasty stood in line amidst cramped quarters for roughly an hour and a half.

All situations, he said, where he could have picked up the coronavirus — or potentially spread it. As the case with the very disease itself, questions abound, but answers, seemingly, are impossible to pinpoint.

Still, that hasn’t stopped sundry social media gadflies from labeling Hasty as a “patient zero” of sorts, with some going as far as personally blaming him for the deaths of others.

Even worse, actual media outlets seemed to be making the same allegations. He recounted a particularly brusque — and syntactically unwieldy — headline from one publication, which reads “Second person dies from Cartersville church where Evans man with coronavirus attended.”

“When I looked at how they had presented it, I just felt, wow, it made me feel like ‘gosh, OK, make a note, maybe I don’t talk to this one,’” he recalled.

Thankfully, more scrupulous new media outfits like Uncommon Journalism still adhere to that old reporting maxim “let them speak for themselves.” And for a story with as many twists and turns and loose ends and hypotheses as the one told by Hasty, nothing short of a nearly hour-long video interview truly suffices to tell the whole tale here ...

Uncommon Journalism, 2020

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