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Catherine O’Neal, MD, an infectious disease physician, took to the podium of the Louisiana governor’s press conference on July 16 and did not mince words.
“The delta variant is not last year’s virus, and it’s become incredibly apparent to healthcare workers that we are dealing with a different beast,” she said.
Louisiana is one of the least vaccinated states in the country. In the United States as a whole, 48.6% of the population is fully vaccinated. In Louisiana, it’s just 36%, and Delta is bearing down.
O’Neal spoke about the pressure that rising COVID cases were already putting on her hospital, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. She talked about watching her peers, 30- and 40-year-olds, become severely ill with the latest iteration of the new coronavirus — the Delta variant — which is sweeping through the United States with astonishing speed, causing new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to rise again.
O’Neal talked about parents who might not be alive to see their children go off to college in a few weeks. She talked about increasing hospital admissions for infected kids and pregnant women on ventilators.
“I want to be clear after seeing what we’ve seen the last two weeks. We only have two choices: We are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic, or we’re going to accept death and a lot of it,” O’Neal said, her voice choked by emotion.
Where Delta Goes, Death Follows
Delta was first identified in India, where it caused a devastating surge in the spring. In a population that was largely unvaccinated, researchers think it may have caused as many as three million deaths. In just a few months’ time, it has sped across the globe.
Créditos: Comité científico Covid