Aimee Matzen was struggling to breathe in her Baton Rouge hospital room as she described how exhausting it is to live with Covid-19. As she took deep, deliberate breaths, she told CNN that she was furious with herself to be here. As a result of being unvaccinated.
Her Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge houses the Covid-19 intensive care unit, where Matzen, 44, is currently located. It is hoped that she will stay healthy enough to avoid being attached to a ventilator. Across the country, Covid-19 is growing rapidly, and Louisiana stands out as one of those hardest hit by the most recent case surge, which is driven by the Delta variant.
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In the past week, CNN analyzed data from Johns Hopkins University and concluded Maryland had the highest rate of new cases per 100,000 residents in the country. The state health officer of Louisiana, Dr. Joseph Kanter, told CNN’s John King that it was disappointing to lose six to seven months of progress.
As Kanter pointed out, several factors contributed to the outbreak, including the Delta variant, which Kanter believed to be more contagious, and “an unacceptable low vaccination rate.”
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana has the country’s lowest vaccination rate, with just 37% of residents fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. With less than 38% of residents fully vaccinated, Louisiana is among the states with the lowest vaccination rate.
During a news conference on Wednesday, officials from Ochsner, the state’s largest healthcare network, announced that Covid-19 patients have increased by 700% over the last month and 75% in the last week. Warner Thomas, Ochsner Health’s CEO, reports that 88% of those patients are unvaccinated.
Unvaccinated people are hit disproportionately by this, Thomas noted. In a very high percentage of cases, those are the people we are seeing in the hospital. In an interview with CNN, Matzen said she had not gotten vaccinated yet, but she wasn’t opposed to doing so. Whenever she planned to receive an immunization, there was always something that prevented her from going through with it. Vaccination would have prevented Matzen from having to go to the hospital, Matzen explained.
It has been reported that some patients deny the existence of Covid-19
Covid-19 transmission has “high” levels in every county in Louisiana, along with Arkansas, according to data compiled by the CDC. In other words, a parish has at least 100 cases for every 100,000 people or a rate of test positivity of more than 10%.
As in other states, hospitalizations for Covid-19 in Louisiana are soaring, with 1,524 patients admitted to hospitals across the state. A total of 259 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized on July 1. In the wake of the Covid-19 surge, hospitals are once again prioritizing treatment for those patients.
Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, looking back to the early days of the pandemic, intentionally halted non-urgent surgeries that would require an inpatient bed on Monday. Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer of the hospital, said the facility’s problem isn’t its lack of room. She explained that Our Lady of Lake’s medical center is the state’s largest. Staff can’t treat everyone, however.
At Our Lady of the Lake, 140 patients were being treated for Covid-19 as of Thursday, 30 of whom were admitted in the past 24 hours, the most in the hospital’s history. Almost half of those treated are younger than 50. Eleven children are among the 50 patients in the ICU.
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Morgan Babin, a registered nurse with years of experience in the hospital’s Covid-19 ICU, told CNN that the population is rising fast with more and more young, sicker patients being admitted: I was their age, as were my coworkers – they were in their 30s or 40s. Yet, some are still in denial about the reality of Covid-19, believing rumors and misinformation that abound. There are patients with Covid-positive diagnoses who claim that this is a lie. Until intubation, some of my patients denied having Covid, she said. In their minds, they think that we are lying to them, and they believe that they have a cold.