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Thursday, September 23, 2021

COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in Louisiana

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COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in Louisiana
COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in Louisiana

Louisiana hospitals are struggling to keep up with the huge surge in COVID-19 patients, fueled by low vaccination rates and the more infectious Delta variant.

Gloria Tso reports.

As the American South grapples with a dangerous new wave of COVID-19, the rapid spread of the Delta variant has unsettled both doctors and patients.

With some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, Louisiana is one of the hardest hit states, hitting a record high of COVID hospitalizations last week.

At Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, doctors say they've had to reserve more than five units just for COVID patients.

Jerome Batiste is one of them.

"I just thought my immune system is too good, you know, I barely get sick, so - I wouldn't say I was invincible, but, you know, I just figured, it's been all this time, and I'm praying I keep everything clean and sanitized, so I thought I would be good." Nationwide, COVID-19 cases have averaged 100,000 for three days in a row, up 35% over the past week, according to a Reuters tally.

Along with Florida and Arkansas, Louisiana has reported the most new cases in the past week, based on population.

Dr. Katherine Baumgarten says that's largely due to low vaccination rates.

"But if you look at our rate of increase - the cases - it's a straight line up; whereas the rest of the United States has had this curve of cases up, and their curve is much lower than our straight line up of cases.

It's because we're not vaccinated." Delta's surge has renewed debate over mask wearing and vaccine mandates.

Louisiana State University recently said unvaccinated students would have to provide monthly proof of a negative coronavirus test.

At one local pharmacy, that news prompted a rush of college students to sign up for the shot.

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