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Doctors fight “two pandemics”: COVID surge and misinformation

▶ Watch Video: Unvaccinated COVID patients in hard-hit Louisiana share regrets

Intensive Care Units in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are in need of additional wards after being filled with coronavirus patients. As of Tuesday morning, the Baton Rouge General Medical Center had 180 COVID patients and more than 70 of them were in the intensive care unit. ¬†They’re operating seven expanded COVID wards, and doctors say the hospital may need two more by the end of the week.

Karri Oakes and her husband Jeffrey are both in the ICU with COVID-19. The couple has been married for 27 years and has caught COVID-19 twice. They were not hospitalized last time, and the couple said they wanted to wait to get vaccinated.

“We thought that the fact that we had it last year would give us some additional protection this year,” Jeffrey told CBS News’ David Begnaud.

“The Delta variant is really, really nasty. And anyone who thinks that they can just come through this, they’re wrong,” Karri added.

Dr. Chris Thomas’s ICU is full of patients like the Oakes. Some are scared or regretful, like 42-year-old Ronald Banks, who has a three-month-old at home but is now hospitalized with COVID.

“I was laying on my kitchen floor. And I couldn’t breathe. I realized I should have got that vaccine,” Banks said.

More COVID patients are expected to arrive over the next few days, and almost all of them will probably be unvaccinated. This frustrates health workers who believe they are fighting the pandemic as well as the misinformation being put out there about COVID vaccines.

“We have two pandemics. We have a pandemic of a Delta virus that’s ravaging our community. And we have a pandemic of misinformation. These people are smart, they’re making what I think they believe are sound decisions as it relates to the vaccine,” said Dr. Thomas, a critical care specialist at Baton Rouge General. “And I’m not frustrated with them anymore. I’m just frustrated that we’ve got to the point where we allow misinformation to equal medical science. They’re not the same. We’re losing the battle of misinformation. And it’s important to win that battle.”

It’s a battle Thomas and his colleagues are trying to win by building rapport with patients even as the war against COVID continues with no end in sight.

“We took an oath. We said we were going to help people. They have to get home. So you come here every day to get them to their homes as much as possible,” Thomas said.

Across Louisiana, the number of hospitalized COVID patients is now at an all-time high. Thomas told Begnaud he’s personally struggling more with this surge, not just because the Delta variant is so challenging but also because he’s seeing younger patients.¬†


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