LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - With 60 percent of the UK variant here in Region 5 and over a 10 percent COVID-19 positivity rate, one healthcare expert at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital says he’s frustrated.
Chief Operating and Chief Nursing Officer for the local hospital, Gerald Bryant says recently released statistics by the Louisiana Department of Health aren’t shocking.
“I’m going to tell you my observations, and most of those in healthcare would say, ‘We would not be surprised to see what is happening in the community because the community is not following recommendations.’”
A combination of vaccine hesitancy and a lack of CDC compliance has put Region 5 at the forefront of coronavirus conversations at the state level.
“That’s not a good story for Southwest Louisiana. It has nothing to do with the healthcare system, it has everything to do with the public and their acceptance of mitigating measures from vaccination all the way through masking, social distancing, etc.”
He also cites our area as being at a higher risk due to the influx of people coming in and out of the region assisting with hurricane recovery. But he explains misinformation regarding the vaccine is contributing to low vaccination rates.
“Will people sometimes die after they’ve gotten the vaccine? Yeah, you can have a heart attack after having the vaccine in the next day or two, no different than, you would’ve had the heart attack anyway. The vaccine has not caused the problem.”
In the fight against COVID-19, he says the only solution is herd immunity.
“Herd immunity will come through vaccination, aggressive vaccination, acceptance by the public, and/or continued disease promulgation. And with continued disease evolution, we’ll continue to see more deaths.”
If herd immunity is not achieved, Bryant explains it could put our region, parish and city back where we were.
“I would also tell you to anticipate, that if it gets too difficult, like we had at the height of this thing last summer, is we could see delays in healthcare. More people will die. More people will not get the healthcare they need, and we may well see ourselves going backwards.”
Bryant is expecting coronavirus positivity to surge in the weeks following Easter and Spring Break.
He says if need be, recently relaxed visitation guidelines for the hospital will cease. That’s something he hopes they don’t have to do.