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Louisiana doctor says ‘exponential’ surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations ‘isn’t a controllable thing at this point’

  • A Louisiana doctor said the spread of the coronavirus is leading to an “exponential” surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • Dr. Catherine O’Neal told CNN, “This isn’t a controllable thing at this point.”
  • The highly transmissible Delta variant is fueling the coronavirus case rise in Louisiana and across the country. 

A Louisiana doctor said the spread of the coronavirus in the Bayou State, fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant, is leading to an “exponential” surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

“Right now in the community the spread is exponential, and that expeditious spread is because of the Delta variant,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Catherine O’Neal told CNN

“That’s resulting in just an exponential number of patients coming into the hospital,” said O’Neal, the chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, which has more COVID-19 patients than any other hospital in the state. 

O’Neal noted that as of Wednesday morning there were 119 COVID-19 patients in the hospital — a 50% increase from last week. 

“You don’t get your arms around something like this. This isn’t a controllable thing at this point,” O’Neal explained. “This is blocking and tackling. This is every day making a new plan.”

O’Neal continued, “We don’t have a game plan for three days from now except that we know that three days from now will be far worse.”

 

The doctor said it feels like Louisiana is headed toward becoming like New York City was in March and April of 2020 as an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were hit so hard in March and April of 2020, but we never got to that point that we heard stories about in New York and that was our conversation last night, that it feels like we’re headed that way and I could see what they were feeling,” she said. 

New York had a COVID-19 hospitalization peak of more than 18,000 in mid-April of last year. 

The COVID-19 patients at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center are “almost wholly unvaccinated,” O’Neal said. 

We are seeing some breakthrough cases,” she said. “But if you look at everybody under the age of 50 … under the age of 50 should be rare in the hospital, but today that accounts for 50 percent of our COVID patients and they are all unvaccinated.” 

Local resident Scott Roe was among those COVID-19 patients at that hospital, and he previously told CBS News that he would rather be ill than get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“Here I am recovering, getting out of here finally tomorrow. Am I going to get a vaccine? No,” Roe had said from his hospital bed last week. 

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