Lemon visited Baton Rouge General Hospital Mid City, the hospital where he was born, to speak with patients and medical staff as the state is swamped by a wave of new COVID-19 cases driven by the virulent delta variant and the low rate of vaccination.
Lemon described the hospital as “bursting at the seams.”
Just 37% of Louisiana’s population is vaccinated, among the lowest vaccination rates in the country. The state recorded a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations last week.
Wearing a full protective suit, Lemon interviewed several patients being treated for the virus, including a 53-year-old man referenced only as Jim. Jim said he had been in the ICU for three days, but was “doing a lot better.”
Asked why he didn’t get vaccinated, Jim said he wasn’t anti-vaccination, but “just hadn’t had time.”
He said he regretted his procrastination. His message to others: “Open your eyes. Take heed to this. This is nothing to play with.”
A doctor told Lemon the hospital has a mix of patients who were either anti-vaccine or just felt that it wasn’t important and “they don’t think it’s going to happen to them.”
“Unfortunately what we’re seeing here is that it can happen to anybody,” she said.
Next, Lemon spoke to a 40-year-old woman who said she was shocked to discover she’d been infected. She said she’d taken precautions like staying home and sanitizing, but decided to wait to get the vaccine.
“I thought that I was being safe,” she said. “I wanted to wait, let this first batch go through, see how it worked. But before I got sick, I was thinking about getting vaccinated … I didn’t make it in time.”
A 70-year-old woman said she was admitted to the hospital on Saturday with double pneumonia and COVID-19. She said her husband had been vaccinated, but she’d been apprehensive about getting her shots.
“But it’s, I guess, needful. Very needful,” she said, adding that she planned to get vaccinated.
“I think everybody ought to try to get it,” she said.
A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter