Bristow, Oklahoma

Main Street is seen in Bristow, Okla.

BRISTOW, Okla. — Epidemiologist Mark Brandenburg saw the threat months ago: The data coming out of China signaled that this could be “the pandemic we had feared for a long time.”

The chief medical officer of a small hospital in this town of 4,200 people, Brandenburg didn’t wait for orders from the federal government or direction from the statehouse. By mid-February, he had launched a citizens’ response team to prepare the community for the novel coronavirus’s arrival. Local leaders organized a phone chain. Teams of teenagers and college students were formed to deliver groceries to seniors.

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