BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported more than 4,454 new COVID-19 cases and 1,974 COVID patients in hospitals. These are near-record numbers the state hasn’t seen since the first surge of the virus back in April 2020.

“So, that surge in April was a lot different that what we are seeing now because now the surge across the entire country,” said Dr. Ralph Dauterive, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Ochsner Health.

Dauterive said doctors and nurses are better at taking care of COVID patients now since they know more about the virus, but as those patients get worse, they wind up in the ICU and it fills up.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Ochsner had 42 COVID patients, Our Lady of the Lake had 102, and Baton Rouge General had more than 70. Doctors say these numbers are result of Christmas travel.

Stephen Mumford, COO of Baton Rouge General, pleaded, “our ask is that you do everything in your power to control what you can control to stay safe and that is to follow the guidelines that we know that are backed by science at this point and that is wear your mask, stay six feet apart from people, and if you’re going to get together with others, which is not recommended, but if you’re going to get together with others, that you do it outdoors and really mitigate your chance of contracting or spreading the virus that you could have and not know that you have.”

Mumford said the thick of flu season and a third COVID wave equals more sick people. Doctors are concerned that it could end up being a manpower issue.

Dr. Dauterive added, “There are no extra nurses in the country to come and help Baton Rouge. They’re all in California and Texas and in the Midwest where they’re in the middle of a surge too.”