Louisiana COVID patient: "I am furious with myself" for not getting vaccinated

It’s always clammy when the media runs a story about a vaccine skeptic who ended up dying of COVID. Ostensibly it’s a cautionary tale but it comes off as hinting that the victim got what he deserved.

It’s less clammy when the vaccine skeptic is alive and wants others to learn from their mistake, or when the relatives of someone who’s passed away choose to speak up. There are a lot of those lately, unfortunately.

“I was strongly against getting the vaccine,” [31-year-old Daryl] Barker said through labored breathing. “Just because we’re a strong conservative family.”

He arrived [at the hospital] critically ill. Placed on a ventilator, Barker was given a 20% chance of surviving.

“The doctor told me he was going to let my wife and kid in so I could say my goodbyes because he didn’t think I was going to pull through,” Barker said. In those conversations, he told his wife and 6-year-old son, Brody, that he loved them “and I wasn’t going to give up.”

Barker has beaten the odds so far, although he’s not out of the woods. Another man from Nevada landed in the hospital less than two weeks ago with COVID after returning from vacation with his fiancee. As his condition worsened, he texted her, “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.” He died yesterday, leaving five kids fatherless.

The Times has a piece today in which relatives of several other COVID victims are interviewed about why their loved ones chose to pass on vaccination. The most tragic is a Utah woman who planned to schedule shots for her family but then get sucked into anti-vax disinformation online and ended up passing. They all came down with COVID and her husband ended up on a ventilator earlier this month. Weeks later, he’s still in the ICU — and yet people keep pushing anti-vax propaganda on his wife. “Even after Mr. Greene was put on a ventilator in early July, vaccine skeptics Ms. Greene knew texted her links to misinformation about fertility and hidden vaccine deaths,” the Times claims. “They sent her boxes of a horse medicine falsely touted as a Covid cure. A business associate of her husband made the case against vaccination while he visited Ms. Greene in the I.C.U. lobby.”

Another woman interviewed for the story wouldn’t let the Times use her last name because she didn’t want COVID skeptics to accuse her of lying about her ordeal in the hospital. “We have people in the I.C.U. with Covid who are denying they have Covid,” said the doctor who’s treating the Utah woman’s husband. “It doesn’t matter what we say.”

Watch this new segment from CNN in which patients at a hospital in Louisiana express their own remorse about not getting vaccinated. A nurse there claims she’s also had patients who deny that they have COVID right up to the point that they’re intubated:

Probably the most well-known victim of COVID in Louisiana is Luke Letlow, a Republican congressional staffer who was elected to Congress himself last November. He succumbed to the disease five days before he was to take his seat, leaving a wife, Julia, and two kids. Julia Letlow went on to win the special election to replace her husband in the House. She has an op-ed out today with a simple message: “My Family’s Covid Tragedy May Save Your Life.”

When Luke was in the hospital, he told me numerous times that he wanted to help people understand the seriousness of the virus. He knew that misinformation was running rampant, and he wanted to hold a press conference in his hospital room to share his experience with others. Sadly, he succumbed to the virus before he could tell that story.

It was horrific to watch the person I love most have to gasp for every breath to stay alive. Seeing the color and life slowly drain from the body of my otherwise perfectly healthy husband was the most painful thing I have ever endured. It is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

Luke died two weeks before Moderna’s vaccine became available to the public. He was 41. I would have given everything to get him that lifesaving shot. Before he contracted Covid, we often prayed together for the vaccine, hoping that it would bring relief to our family and so many others. I know that he was ready to get vaccinated and would have encouraged his friends, family members and constituents to follow suit.

Letlow has special reason to share that message. She’s not just the widow of a COVID victim, she represents part of a state that’s suffering one of the most ferocious Delta outbreaks in the country. So ferocious, in fact, that average daily cases in Louisiana are now at their highest of the entire pandemic:

Hospitalizations still have a way to go before reaching the peak but they’re inching up towards winter levels:

The outlier, thankfully, is deaths. The daily average stands at 11, just one-sixth as bad as it got last spring. That puts Louisiana in a similar posture to Florida, where cases are also exploding, hospitalizations are rising, but deaths are increasing more slowly. Vaccinating senior citizens is paying real dividends in the most important metric.

I’ll leave you with this data point: Of the 20 states with the highest number of hospitalizations per 100,000 people, not a single one has vaccinated 50 percent of its population.