Is virus as bad as we think?

CASES KEEP RISING — The number of coronavirus pandemic cases continues to rise in major numbers in more and more states. Despite that reality, there are still those who refuse to accept the reality that COVID-19 can be a deadly disease.

A reader last week gave me his latest findings on the coronavirus pandemic from studies that he said he really didn’t have time to look up again. However, he added that “a columnist should be aware of them before influencing a large population to support false premises and sacrifice their own children’s education.”

Here are his findings: The number of cases are up, but not deadly. Children have next to a zero chance of dying from the virus, and they don’t pass the virus on to adults. The seasonal flu has a higher death rate.

Cloth masks should not be relied on for protection by health care workers, he said, adding, “Try keeping a mosquito from penetrating a chain link fence.”

Persons in nursing homes and others with underlying health vulnerability should place themselves in quarantine, he said. Otherwise, people under 70 are a small percentage of people that die of the virus.

OK, where is the state now?

The latest figures show that Louisiana has recorded over 103,000 cases, 3,603 deaths and 1,600 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. The state last week had the highest number of people in the hospital since May

1. The 36 deaths reported on one day last week were the most since May

28.

Nationwide, a thousand Americans are dying from COVID-19 every day. National columnist Pat Buchanan said that is a higher daily death toll than in World War II and the Civil War combined.

The Advocate reported Saturday that New Orleans virus cases are roughly four times the daily average they were during Phase 1. The newspaper added, “Those numbers, however, are far below the parishes like Lafayette, Jefferson, Calcasieu and East Baton Rouge that have borne the brunt of the second outbreak.”

Dr. Catherine O’Neal is chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, the largest hospital in the state. Last week, she talked about the serious impact the pandemic is having on the hospital’s resources. There were 103 coronavirus patients in the hospital, she said, and that was up from just 17 in mid-June.

“It’s a disturbing sign that this virus is not exactly what we thought it was,” O’Neal said. “It does affect every single person in our community. We have a wide range of ages, a wide range of demographics, a wide range of communities, all in our hospital today.”

The patients at Our Lady of the Lake ranged in age, with many in their 20s, 30s and 40s, described as “a departure from the start of the pandemic when most patients skewed older.”

News reports last week said 65 children in this country have died from the virus, and that is 65 too many.

Dr. Manley Jordan, chief medical officer at the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital System, the largest hospital close to home, said it has seen COVID-19 patients jump from zero in late May to 58 last Thursday.

“As of today, we’re treading water,” Jordan said. “What’s concerning is where we’re going to be in a few days.”

Dr. Amanda Logue, chief medical officer at Lafayette General Hospital, said, “Our hospital is full and our ICU is full.” She said the hospital has transferred patients to as far away as Mississippi. The hospital has declined 87 percent of the requests it received for transfers into its hospital.

Dr. Henry Kaufman, chief medical officer at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, said the hospital has almost completely halted elective procedures. Those include serious surgeries like heart bypasses and early stage cancer operations.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said last week, “But what we cannot have happen here is we lose the ability to deliver lifesaving care in our hospitals.”

Hospital staffing is a major problem, the governor said, and getting help is almost impossible because of the virus surge in other states. Edwards had some solid advice for people like my critical reader who thinks this coronavirus pandemic is overblown.

“Even if, for some strange reason that is totally incomprehensible to me, you don’t care about COVID-19, you should care about that hospital capacity when you have an automobile accident or when you have your heart attack or your stroke, or your mother or grandmother has that stroke,” Edwards said. “Because we’re talking about the same staff, the same beds, all over Louisiana.”

Large crowds are a continuing problem in many major cities across the country, including New Orleans. The mayor of New Orleans shut the bars down in her city Saturday for the second time.

Gov. Edwards has said on many occasions that he doesn’t want to go back to the Phase 1 reopening plan that reduced capacity at restaurants and other businesses. And he doesn’t want to issue another stay-at-home order. Instead, he is urging Louisianans to continue wearing masks, observing social distancing, avoiding large crowds and washing their hands often.

At age 86, I have taken the coronavirus pandemic seriously from the beginning. And despite the critics, I will continue to remind our readers that COVID-19 is here in full force, and it’s still deadly for people of all ages.

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