Doctors warn it’s a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as hospitalizations climb

Hospital systems say they are becoming strained once again.
COVID Hospitalizations
COVID Hospitalizations
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:45 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Hospitalizations have shot up in Louisiana to their highest level since February: 844 people with 64 on ventilators.

Both Oschner and LCMC say their systems are becoming stressed once again.

“All the data indicates that we’re here, we’re in a surge, and the difference here is that we could have prevented this,” Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control for Ochsner Health said.

Ochsner says its statewide system has seen 74 covid patients jump to 313 in just a month and 97 percent are unvaccinated.

“This is evolving into being a pandemic of the unvaccinated versus a pandemic of the whole population,” Warner Thomas, President and CEO of Ochsner said.

Ochsner officials say this jump is stressing staff and creating longer waits for beds and in the ER.

“Back in April we weren’t taking care of everybody else because we were at a shelter in place situation, so, today we have 313 COVID patients and we’re trying to take care of all the other medical needs of folks that we would see in kind of a normal course per day,” Warner said.

The patients are getting younger as well. The average age was 65 years old in January, now it’s dropped to 55 years old.

Doctors say this is because the older population has higher vaccination rates.

“Now, it’s some of the younger folks in the community, so those that are in their 20′s or 30′s, their 40′s or 50′s who have not been vaccinated that we’re seeing in the hospital and we’ve seen young people, teenagers, in their 20′s critically ill on ventilators,” Elder said.

Dr. Jeffrey Elder says this surge is putting a squeeze on LCMC too, with just under 70 covid patients Wednesday.

He says many breakthrough cases don’t see the hospital, but there have been some.

“Typically, these are patients that maybe were older with multiple medical conditions and had some immunocompromised state,” Elder said.

Breakthrough cases are not a sign of vaccine failure, however, it’s expected and doctors say the only real protection is vaccination.

“We’re out there as physicians telling people to get vaccinated giving them the facts, encouraging them, telling them why this is important and folks don’t want to listen to that, but they’re willing to come to the hospital and listen to how we want to treat them in the hospital, and take our guidance in the hospital, so it’s confusing,” Warner said.

Dr. Elder says he had this conversation with a group of unvaccinated covid patients last week.

“They were scared and that’s completely understandable, but they were also upset that they had the opportunity to get vaccinated, and they weren’t, and that’s probably why they ended up in the hospital,” Elder said.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.

Copyright 2021 WVUE. All rights reserved.