A year and a half into the pandemic, Louisiana is now facing its worst surge of coronavirus yet — and health care workers are once again overwhelmed.
"I can't explain the feeling of defeat when you pour everything into a patient and it's not enough," Felicia Croft, who works as an ICU nurse in Shreveport, says in a recent video diary in her car. It's been one of the hardest days for her since the pandemic began, she says.
"And then to know that they could've gotten vaccinated and it could've made a difference," Croft said.
Louisiana health officials say the delta variant is driving the new surge in hospitalizations, especially among people who are not vaccinated. At the Willis-Knighton Health System, where Croft works, 77 of the 88 people hospitalized were unvaccinated as of Friday.
"People are younger and sicker" with the delta variant, she said. Croft, 35, said patients her age or even younger are dying.
Croft recounted a heart-wrenching moment with her 14-year-old daughter, Macy, when Macy asked Croft to pray for her friend's parents who are in the hospital's ICU with COVID-19.
"To know that my daughter might come to me when she gets that call and say, 'Mom, why didn't you save them?' I cannot even explain how that feels, as a nurse and as a mom," Croft said.
Croft tells NPR's Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition that she recorded the video after a really difficult day: "My kids are hurting for their friends. And that just made this day much harder and really made me just need to get some feelings out."
In the video, Croft holds back tears thinking that moms like her will miss out on their children's milestones — seeing their kids graduate or meeting their grandchildren. Or that their children could become orphaned.
"More often than not, when they come in and they're admitted and they can't breathe and we're talking about ventilators, they're saying, 'I wish I would have gotten the shot,' " Croft tells NPR.
But the pace of vaccinations in Louisiana is now picking up, which Croft says is good news. It's been "incredible" to see people's "change in mindset and how they didn't know it was quite this serious or they were ignorant until it's affected someone they loved. And I want people to see that this is real and that there's help before it hurts someone they love."
Jesse Johnson, Miranda Kennedy and Tekella Foster produced and edited the audio interview.