Unvaccinated, hospitalized: Patient now advocates for shots

Aug 4, 2021, 7:00 PM
A paramedic follows strict protocols disrobing from his protective equipment after working with COV...

A paramedic follows strict protocols disrobing from his protective equipment after working with COVID-19 patient Cedric Daniels, 37, of Gonzales, La., at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. Louisiana is leading the nation in the number of new COVID cases per capita and remains one of the bottom five states in administering vaccinations. (AP Photo/Ted Jackson)

(AP Photo/Ted Jackson)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Cedric Daniels and Joshua Bradstreet Contreras didn’t think they really needed the coronavirus vaccine. After all, the uncle and nephew are both young — 37 and 22, respectively — and Contreras was “as healthy as a horse,” Daniels said.

But just days after Daniels went to visit Contreras in New Orleans — a long-awaited reunion that came after not seeing each other for months because of the pandemic — the nephew was rushed away in an ambulance. He couldn’t breathe, even when sitting completely still. He is now in a hospital in a New Orleans suburb, on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma.

At about the same time, Daniels started feeling weak, had blurred vision and was so short of breath he could barely make it from his couch in the living room to the bathroom. He tested positive for the virus, then went to a hospital in Baton Rouge already overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, where he stayed for a week on oxygen as he recovered from pneumonia.

Contreras and Daniels are among a flood of patients filling up overloaded hospitals across the U.S. amid a surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the virus’s highly contagious delta variant. Health officials say the most serious cases have been among the unvaccinated.

“It is frustrating, because it’s preventable … but more than that, it’s really sad,” said James Ford, a critical care doctor in the ICU at Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center in Baton Rouge, where Daniels was treated.

To help with the influx, the hospital brought in a disaster medical assistance team of nearly three dozen health care workers on Monday. That same day, hospital leaders at a news conference where Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a reinstated statewide mask mandate described grim conditions across Louisiana: facilities filled with COVID-19 patients, including children, and hospital hallways lined with stretchers because there aren’t enough beds.

“A lot of them are debilitated and need around-the-clock care,” said Ford, who has been working on his days off to help ease his hospital’s burden. “It’s very labor intensive.”

Some of those patients, like Daniels, now wish they had taken the shot.

“They’re talking about putting tubes down your throat possibly if your oxygen doesn’t go up within the next hour, and that is frightening,” he told The Associated Press on Monday as he lay in a bed with an oxygen tube in his nose. He was released shortly afterward but still must use oxygen at home.

“I am now a huge advocate for doctor’s orders,” Daniels added. “They think we ought to get vaccinated, I think we ought to get vaccinated.”

Daniels, who lives in Gonzales, about 57 miles (92 kilometers) northwest of New Orleans, said he and Contreras were the only unvaccinated members of their households. Daniels’ wife and live-in mother-in-law, both of whom were inoculated months ago, have both tested negative twice since he tested positive.

Contreras’ mother, Tarsha Bradstreet, had also been vaccinated, as had her 19-year-old son who lives in the same house in New Orleans. Bradstreet said she tried to persuade Contreras to get the shot, but said she had only so much pull over him.

“Josh hardly goes anywhere since COVID hit, so he didn’t think he needed the vaccine,” Bradstreet said.

One of the places to which Contreras did go, however, was his summer job at Café Reconcile. About the time he started getting ill, he got a call from the restaurant telling him that a co-worker had tested positive for the virus and he needed to get tested himself.

“He had a headache and some nausea, so at first we thought it was dehydration,” Bradstreet said. “A week later, he couldn’t smell. He couldn’t breathe. I noticed his breath was quick and rapid, and he could barely stand up or do anything. I had to call an ambulance.”

A while later, the hospital called and said, “‘Your son is on a ventilator,’ and I almost died,” Bradstreet said. “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t realize how serious it was. I didn’t know. He almost died.”

Bradstreet talks to her son every day through one of the hospital’s portable laptops, so that he can hear her voice even if he can’t see her.

She also prays a lot, and hopes that sharing her son’s story will motivate others who have not yet been vaccinated to go and get the shot.

“When we go through things, it’s to help other people, to teach people something,” she said. “Their choice may leave them in the hospital. Maybe they’ll get the lesson before they have to go through this.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

Associated Press

U of Michigan gets $40M gift to help 1st-generation students

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Before New York real estate developer Fred Wilpon would become part-owner and then sole owner of the New York Mets for over 30 years, he was a 17-year-old first-generation college student who had gotten off an airplane for the first time in his life to attend the University of Michigan. Looking […]
5 hours ago
FILE - In this Thursday Oct. 14, 2021, file photo, protesters at City Hall condemn Mayor Bill de Bl...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Why are schools revisiting gifted education?

New York City officials announced plans this month for its school system, the country’s largest, to phase out its program for gifted and talented students. The screening test the city has given to 4-year-olds used to identify gifted and talented students had drawn controversy for years, but several other districts have been reassessing gifted programs, […]
5 hours ago
FILE - In this Thursday Oct. 14, 2021, file photo, protesters at City Hall condemn Mayor Bill de Bl...
Associated Press

Schools debate: Gifted and talented, or racist and elitist?

NEW YORK (AP) — Communities across the United States are reconsidering their approach to gifted and talented programs in schools as vocal parents blame such elite programs for worsening racial segregation and inequities in the country’s education system. A plan announced by New York City’s mayor to phase out elementary school gifted and talented programs […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

UN rights chief: Action on climate a matter of survival

BERLIN (AP) — The U.N.’s top human rights official called Thursday for countries to act decisively on climate change, saying it is a “matter of survival” for humanity. In a statement ahead of next week’s U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, the global body’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that “only urgent, priority […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Plane diverted after passenger assaults flight attendant

NEW YORK (AP) — An American Airlines flight from New York to California was diverted to Denver after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant, authorities said. Flight 976 was heading Wednesday from John F. Kennedy International Airport to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana when it landed at Denver International Airport and taxied safely to […]
5 hours ago
FILE - In this June 25, 2021 file photo, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde arrives ...
Associated Press

European Central Bank leaves pandemic stimulus unchanged

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank decided Thursday to keep its pandemic stimulus efforts unchanged even as consumer prices spike and central banks in other parts of the world look to dial back support as their economies bounce back from the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision affecting the 19 European Union […]
5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Schwartz Laser Eye Center

How to sharpen your vision with elective procedures

Imagine opening your eyes in the morning and being able to see clearly. You wouldn’t have to wait to put on glasses or contacts, and there would be no more blurry showers nor forgetting where your glasses are.
Sweet James

Best fall road trips to take on a motorcycle

Autumn in Arizona brings the beauty of color-changing leaves and a relief from summer heat. It’s one of the most pleasant times to explore the outdoors, especially on a motorcycle.
Chris Kennedy

My Special Aflac Duck® taking flight in Arizona

For more than 65 years, Aflac has had the extraordinary opportunity and privilege to help provide peace of mind to individuals who have our supplemental insurance policies.
Unvaccinated, hospitalized: Patient now advocates for shots