'Open Your Eyes': Unvaccinated Man in Louisiana ICU Urges People to Get Shot

A hospitalized COVID-19 patient in Louisiana who had not been vaccinated has urged others to "open [their] eyes" and get a shot after falling seriously ill.

The man, who was identified only as Jim, described falling ill with COVID-19 as "like you got your lungs just clamped down."

He said he was not anti-vaccine but simply had not gotten around to arranging for his first shot.

Asked by CNN host Don Lemon what he would say to those who were unsure whether to get inoculated, Jim replied: "Open your eyes. Take heed to this."

He added he was now "doing a lot better" having spent three days in the intensive care unit (ICU) in Baton Rouge General Hospital-Mid City—where doctors said 90 percent of resources and 90 percent of beds were taken up with COVID patients.

Lemon was in his birth town of Baton Rouge assessing the situation in hospitals amid a surge in COVID patients.

On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 5,268 new COVID cases. It said 2,901 individuals were hospitalized with COVID across the state, the highest number at any point since the beginning of the pandemic.

Officials also reported 54 COVID deaths—down one from the previous day. "Please stay safe and #maskup. Consider getting your vaccine if you have not already," the department tweeted.

Please stay safe and #maskup. Consider getting your vaccine if you have not already.

— Louisiana Department of Health (@LADeptHealth) August 12, 2021

Earlier this week, a man in Florida who spent weeks hospitalized in an ICU after contracting COVID urged others to get the vaccine.

Lawrence Johnson, 67, spoke to the media after spending more than 20 days in UF Health Jacksonville's ICU suffering from severe COVID symptoms.

"I was inconsiderate and stupid and dumb for not getting the vaccination," Johnson told First Coast News. "If I had somebody to talk to me and explain to me the importance of the vaccine and all of that, I probably would have got it."

"This virus will almost drain the life out of you," he said.

The 67-year-old added he believes that God wanted him to "be his ambassador" and urge others to get vaccinated in the state, which is experiencing the worst seven-day average COVID death rates in the entire country.

Separately, the husband of a 23-year-old unvaccinated woman who is fighting for her life after contracting COVID has urged people to get the shot as the highly contagious Delta variant drives a surge in infections.

Jeffrey Tatum, the husband of Alyssa Tatum from the city of Medford in Oregon, told local TV station KTVL that his wife was in the hospital on a ventilator after being admitted to the ICU.

He confirmed that he and his wife had not yet been vaccinated against COVID, adding: "We weren't sure of the what-ifs or what was going to happen as far as what could happen to our baby long term, or what can happen to us or what risks would be involved. We made that decision to maybe wait it out and see how this pandemic is going to pass."

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
Pharmacist LaChandra McGowan prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic operated by DePaul Community Health Center on August 12, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. A hospitalized COVID-19 patient in Louisiana who had not been vaccinated has urged others to get a shot after falling seriously ill. Mario Tama/Getty Images