Calcasieu Coroner on COVID deaths: ‘They deserve to live a little longer as well’

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 9:21 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Despite nationwide efforts to get people vaccinated, the numbers of those infected, hospitalized and dying are not getting any better in Southwest Louisiana.

As of August 10, the Calcasieu Parish coroner said there have already been 13 COVID deaths in August alone, and he expects that number to go up.

“When I saw this coming in from China, I got very concerned. And I must admit, I thought it was going to be bad, but it’s far worse than I even anticipated,” Calcasieu Parish Coroner Dr. Terry Welke said.

Welke said the primary way COVID causes death is through the lungs. And Region 5 Medical Director Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh agrees. She explains that the weakening of the lungs gets even worse when it leads to pneumonia.

“And pneumonia makes you not be able to exchange oxygen, so you basically cant breath,” Dr. Cavanaugh said.

Welke says that’s where the real trouble starts.

“And then when you get pneumonia, those little air sacs get filled up with either infected bacteria or viruses or portions of the body’s cells to help fight the infections,” Dr. Welke said. “And so, those little air sacs get less and less.”

He adds that in severe cases of COVID, it’s common for the lungs to get to this point of infection and eventually cause death.

“They deserve to live a little longer as well. They didn’t need to die from COVID, something that is preventable - or at least to the point where it can be controlled a little better than it has been,” Dr. Welke said.

Cavanaugh says even though people can help by getting vaccinated, we’re stuck with the current surge for at least sometimes,

“You know, this increase we are seeing now in the deaths is really a reflection of the beginning of the spike, and unfortunately, it’s likely to continue to get worse because we know that it’s delayed and the spike has gotten worse,” Dr. Cavanaugh said.

Welke said COVID deaths are preventable and he encourages more people to get the vaccine, wear a mask when necessary and wash your hands frequently.

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