SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Dr. Charity Dean, Santa Barbara County's former Public Health Director (2014-2018) is in the national spotlight again. This time, in last Sunday's edition of 60 Minutes.
Dean is among a group of doctors and scientists who sounded the COVID-19 pandemic alarm back in 2020 -- but were largely ignored.
"Into my lap landed three of the best characters I think I've ever had," said author Michael Lewis. He was interviewed by 60 Minutes CBS Correspondent, John Dickerson.
Lewis has a knack for writing about people who saw things coming, like the Wall Street crash and, the COVID-19 pandemic. Dean is one of them. Lewis' new book, "The Premonition," profiles those with what he called "trained intuition," capable of foreseeing what was coming.
"And they aren't the people you'd expect," said Lewis.
Dean, a state Disease Control expert and at the time, Assistant Director of the Department of Public Health, said she was horrified by social media images coming out of China in January of 2020. Authorities appeared to be welding apartment doors shut, locking people inside.
"I thought, 'They know something we don't and this is real,'" said Dean.
She suspected international travel into California's airports meant the coronavirus was already circulating. She plotted out a terrifying scenario on her white board.
"I thought, 'Oh my god, I don't believe this. It's 20 million in May."
Dean and others throughout the country urged officials at the state and federal levels to intervene to slow the viruses path. She said the response from higher-ups was stunning.
"I was asked not to say the word "pandemic" because it might scare people. But I was scared," Dean said.
No one would listen. Dean thought she was alone.
"Then all of a sudden she's introduced to the Wolverines," said Lewis.
The so-called "Wolverines" are at the core of Lewis' book. It is a group of doctors who'd worked in the White House and at times, navigated the country through previous outbreaks, when leadership wouldn't.
"They love life. They know how important it is and want to save it," said Lewis.
Dr. Dean also appeared in "American Catastrophe" back in July of 2020. That was ABC's investigation into the coronavirus. She said it is "really hard for the human brain to grasp the exponential growth of an existential threat."