Louisiana doctor: We have so few beds and staff, we can't provide adequate care to our patients anymore

A viral clip from yesterday’s press conference featuring several Louisiana doctors who tried to impress upon their state’s residents how dire the situation is right now in parts of their state. It’s … not great.

Cases have more than doubled in the past two weeks, lately reaching their highest point of the pandemic, and hospitalizations are on their way up towards the winter peak. Deaths have risen only a bit, but deaths lag hospital care. If those numbers are going up, fatalities will rise too.

This clip of Dr. Catherine O’Neal warning her state to vax up and mask up is popular due to a combination of substance and style, I think. O’Neal’s ability to speak extemporaneously in complete paragraphs, without so much as an “um” for four minutes, is impressive to the point of being slightly unnerving. But not as unnerving as what she has to say about her hospital in Baton Rouge. When beds open up, too many of their own staffers are out sick with COVID to admit patients to those beds. When they have staff, there are too few ICU beds to admit everyone who needs intensive care. She talks about people who are severely ill with COVID having to tough it out in local ERs, which lack the capacity to provide the treatment they need, because there just isn’t room in local hospitals at the moment.

What she describes reminds me of press reports from India back in April or May, right down to the phenomenon of family members desperately pulling strings to try to get their loved one a bed somewhere. Watch, then read on.

The most important point is what she says about accident victims, not COVID victims, having to make do with ER care when what they need is an ICU. One answer to the new CDC guidance on masking is that it’s unnecessary because, in the vaccine era, everyone is now able to manage their own risk. If you’re worried about COVID, get the shots; if you’re not, skip ’em, but don’t expect the vaccinated to take any precautions to protect you. The vaxxed get to go back to normal, the unvaxxed get to take their chances and hope for the best, and everyone’s happy. Now here comes O’Neal to remind the unvaccinated that it’s not that simple. When they refuse the vaccine, they put themselves at needless risk of needing an ICU bed that someone else might need for reasons having nothing to do with COVID. If a vaccinated grandma in Baton Rouge has a medical emergency and needs intensive treatment, it’s an open question at the moment whether she can get it.

And it didn’t need to be. This crisis could have been avoided.

Axios polled Americans on whom they blame for the current Delta surge. The vaccinated blame the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated blame … anyone else:

The only group less likely to be blamed by the unvaccinated for the new wave than the unvaccinated themselves is conservative media, which gives us a good idea of which way politically most of the unvaccinated lean.

Louisiana is fifth from the bottom in the share of the population that’s fully vaccinated, by the way, ahead of Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama dead last at just 34 percent. Vermont, with the highest share of fully vaxxed residents, is at literally twice that percentage.