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Hospitals in Baton Rouge have urgent warnings as the third wave surges across the state

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BATON ROUGE - Top hospitals in the Capital City are sounding off a grim warning about the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.

The warning comes on the heels of the recent holiday season.

Ochsner Health officials say the spike in hospitalizations is only the beginning of a massive influx still to come.

"Christmas and new years haven't hit yet, so we know it's going to get tighter" Chief Medical Officer Robert Hart said.

Amid the third surge of the Coronavirus pandemic, Chief Medical Officer Robert Hart says they've seen the number of COVID admissions double across the system over the last month.

"We've seen a very big escalation especially in the last ten days. The hospital system has seen a 40 to 50-patient increase," Oschner Health CEO Warner Thomas said.

At Our Lady of The Lake, Doctor Catherine O'neal says hospital bed availability is diminishing rapidly.

"We are running out of beds for these patients, and we need this Covid surge to go down and we need it to go down soon," she said.

Her assessment is backed by troubling numbers.

OLOL hospitals admitted 91 COVID patients in the last five days. This brings their number of COVID patients in the Baton Rouge market to 101. Most cases are community spread.

In a news conference call Wednesday, Doctor O'neal says the rise in admissions has led to a bigger problem.

"Every hospital across the state is very stretched for staff. In some cases they just don't have the ability to care for these patients like they want to," Dr. O'Neal said.

As the vaccines roll out, Doctor's are once again stressing the importance of wearing masks, and social distancing.

They're urging the community to take care of themselves and think of the health care heroes as well.

So far, about 7,000 front liners have been vaccinated at OLOL. Just under 50% of employees have received the shot at Ochsner.

Hospital officials expect distribution to increase as the vaccine rollout continues.

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