'I am furious with myself': Unvaccinated Covid patient describes the exhausting illness

'I am furious with myself': Unvaccinated Covid patient describes the exhausting illness

Posted: Jul 29, 2021 9:30 PM
Updated: Jul 29, 2021 9:30 PM

Sitting in her hospital room in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Aimee Matzen struggled to breathe as she described how exhausting it is to have Covid-19.

"The fact that I am here now, I am furious with myself," she told CNN between deep, deliberate breaths. "Because I was not vaccinated."

Matzen, 44, finds herself in the Covid-19 intensive care unit at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. She is receiving oxygen treatments and hopes she stays well enough to avoid getting hooked up to a ventilator.

With Covid-19 surging in states across the country, Louisiana stands among those hardest hit by the most recent rise in cases, driven in large part by the Delta variant.

The state has the highest 7-day average of new cases per-capita in the country, at 77 cases reported per 100,000 residents each day over the past week, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

"It is a kick in the gut to feel like we effectively have lost six or seven months of progress," Louisiana State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter told CNN's John King on Wednesday.

Kanter attributed the surge to a "perfect storm" of factors, including the Delta variant, which is believed to be more transmissible, and "unacceptably low vaccination coverage."

Louisiana's vaccination rate is among the lowest in the country, with just 37% of residents fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's the fifth lowest in the country, and Louisiana is one of six states that has less than 38% of residents fully vaccinated.

The state's largest healthcare system, Ochsner, has seen a 700% increase in Covid-19 patients over the last month and a 75% increase in the last week, officials said during a news conference on Wednesday.

And the vast majority of those patients -- 88%, according to Ochsner Health CEO Warner Thomas -- are unvaccinated.

"This is absolutely disproportionately hitting folks that are unvaccinated," Thomas said. "Those are the folks that in a very high majority we're seeing coming to the hospital."

Matzen told CNN she was not opposed to getting vaccinated -- she just hadn't gotten around to it. Every time she planned to get inoculated, "something would come up," she said.

"I have this feeling ... if I was vaccinated, I wouldn't be hospitalized," Matzen said.

Some Covid-19 patients deny the virus is real

Louisiana is one of two states, along with Arkansas, where every county -- or parish, as the jurisdictions are known in Louisiana -- has "high" levels of community transmission of Covid-19, per CDC data.

That means each parish has either 100 or more cases per 100,000 people, or a test positivity rate of 10% or higher.

Hospitalizations in Louisiana are also skyrocketing, with 1,524 people hospitalized with Covid-19 across the state, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. On July 1 there were 259 hospitalized Covid-19 patients.

The surge is again forcing hospitals to prioritize the treatment of Covid-19 patients over others.

Harkening back to the early days of the pandemic, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center on Monday halted the scheduling of non-urgent surgical procedures that would require an inpatient bed.

The hospital's problem isn't a lack of room, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Catherine O'Neal said. Our Lady of Lake is the largest regional medical center in the state, she said. But it doesn't have the staff to treat everyone.

Patients are coming in waves, O'Neal told CNN, forcing the hospital to call in reserve workers and shut down other wards.

"The load is becoming overwhelming," she said.

There were 140 Covid-19 patients at Our Lady of the Lake as of Thursday, 30 of whom had been admitted over the previous 24 hours -- the most since the pandemic began, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Almost 50% of the patients are under age 50. Fifty patients are in the ICU, and 11 of them are children.

Morgan Babin, a registered nurse who has worked in the hospital's Covid-19 ICU since March 2020, told CNN the ICU's population has been rising rapidly with patients who are younger and sicker.

"They were my age, my coworkers' age -- 30s, 40s," she said. "It made me scared for my own health as well as my community."

Still, some remain in denial that Covid-19 is real, falling prey to rampant misinformation. And Babin has patients who insist their Covid-positive diagnosis is a lie.

"I have patients that denied they have Covid all the way up until intubation," she said. "They think that they have a cold, and they think that we're lying to them."

Nowhere is safe, doctor says

O'Neal said the hospital assumes all cases now consist of the Delta variant, and the only place people are safe from the virus is in their homes, she said. Even outside, "there is no more safe," she said.

"If you're interacting in this community, you should be vaccinated and you should have a mask on, because we're inundated with Covid," she said.

Another patient at Our Lady of the Lake, Carsyn Baker, said she believed she got the virus when she visited her friend's house for her birthday, sitting on a screened porch.

"I'd close my eyes and I'd feel like I couldn't breathe," Baker, 21, said. "Something in my body would tell me, like, 'hey, you need to breathe, like, wake up.'"

Baker has a kidney condition, she said, and her doctor has advised against her getting vaccinated for now.

"It kind of sucks because people like myself with an auto-immune disease, you can't really go anywhere now, because everybody's getting sick and it just don't matter what you do," Baker said.

Ronnie Smith, another patient, was considering getting a vaccine. But he got Covid-19 instead. Smith, 47, believes he got the virus from a friend at an outdoors cookout.

"Two days after the event, I went down on the floor and I couldn't get up," he said.

In a statement this week, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards pleaded for eligible people to get a vaccine, saying all three were "safe and effective" and the best tools available to end the pandemic.

"For anyone asking the question when will this end, the answer is simple: when we decide to do what it takes to end it," the governor said.

Asked what she would tell people who remain on the fence about the vaccine, Matzen said, "Jump off. Run. Bring your family with you, get to the clinics. There is no excuse anymore. This is real."

"I just don't want anyone else winding up like me," Matzen said, "especially when the vaccine is so easy to get now."

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Terre Haute
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Robinson
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 65°
Indianapolis
Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 61°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 65°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 66°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Marshall
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 66°
Sunny and dry, but cool and breezy!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1605320

Reported Deaths: 27132
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook61354910964
DuPage1039171357
Will873121089
Lake771121060
Kane65888850
Winnebago39007544
Madison38143576
St. Clair35003569
McHenry33032316
Peoria25972362
Champaign25862182
Sangamon24588271
McLean21879207
Tazewell19736326
Rock Island17806344
Kankakee16784234
Kendall15459106
LaSalle14496275
Macon14478240
Vermilion13234189
Adams12695148
DeKalb11667128
Williamson11419157
Whiteside7897176
Jackson769188
Boone760082
Coles7341112
Ogle713486
Grundy701281
Franklin686899
Clinton681498
Knox6651164
Marion6547138
Macoupin646399
Henry620474
Jefferson6060132
Effingham604382
Livingston571295
Woodford554291
Stephenson546289
Randolph529297
Monroe508199
Christian491780
Fulton487970
Morgan487296
Logan477474
Montgomery467476
Lee458156
Bureau427188
Perry415171
Saline409263
Fayette398956
Iroquois394673
McDonough354956
Jersey322253
Shelby311843
Douglas306636
Crawford304130
Lawrence301131
Union296747
Wayne274057
White265930
Richland262054
Hancock256334
Pike255956
Cass250928
Clark250738
Bond244024
Clay240047
Ford235256
Edgar234744
Carroll225437
Warren224960
Johnson213524
Moultrie211831
Jo Daviess206126
Washington206127
Wabash200915
Greene200739
Mason199351
Massac198144
De Witt195530
Piatt190814
Mercer190634
Cumberland178325
Menard158612
Jasper152418
Marshall134721
Hamilton128821
Brown10178
Pulaski98311
Schuyler9688
Edwards96315
Stark76827
Gallatin7435
Scott6975
Alexander67611
Henderson65114
Calhoun6442
Hardin56013
Putnam5444
Pope4815
Unassigned1882432
Out of IL40

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479