The Lafayette community is in mourning after registered nurse Olivia Guidry died over the weekend. Her friends and family have been posting tributes to her on social media since Saturday when her death was announced. Before she died, Guidry was a frequent critic of the country’s vaccination campaign on social media, and now some of her old posts are coming back to haunt her.
Disputing the Cause of Death
Guidry’s death is going viral for all the wrong reasons. As a nurse at Ochsner Lafayette General, she had a history of questioning the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the U.S.
“This vaccine has been released using recombinant DNA faster than any vaccine in the world. It manipulates your DNA at the tiniest molecular level. Do. Not. Get. It. It’s not safe,” she tweeted in 2020, followed by, “Am I the only one thinking they are trying to see how much they can control us? We are a straight-up social experiment.”
She was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early July, according to her sister Brittany Smith. Guidry came down with a high fever and had a seizure before being put into a medically induced coma last Thursday after showing signs of brain damage. She was treated with high doses of steroids and antibodies.
It’s not clear if Guidy had been vaccinated.
Her friends and family took to social media immediately following her death to share their remembrances. The posts say she died of neurological complications after testing positive for COVID-19, but Ochsner Lafayette General says otherwise.
Hospital CEO Al Patin issued a statement following her death: “Many reports have stated that Olivia died due to complications from COVID-19. However, the cause of her untimely death is unclear at this time and will be determined by an autopsy, with results not expected for several days. The appropriate officials have been made aware of her case.”
He went on to say, “We are extremely saddened by the loss of Olivia Guidry, a registered nurse at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center. She was a beloved member of our hospital family and dedicated to taking care of every patient who entered our emergency department.”
Her friend Brooke McIntyre wrote on Facebook that she’s grateful that she visited Guidry in the hospital last Wednesday before she went into a coma. “You were my absolute best friend. I truly can’t imagine life without you…We will see each other again one day, but right now my heart is so shattered,” the now-private post read.
She added that while she was there, one of Guidy’s former patients was being wheeled out of his room.
“He pointed at you and said, ‘You. You are the best nurse I’ve ever had. You came (every) time I called,'” McIntyre wrote. “I pointed back at (Guidry) and said, ‘She’s the best we’ve got!'”
A New Hotspot
As demand for the COVID-19 vaccines continues to languish across the country, experts say Louisiana is vulnerable to new outbreaks due to low vaccination rates. The number of new COVID-19 cases has dropped off considerably since the peak nearly one year ago, but that doesn’t mean LA is out of the woods.
A new study from Georgetown University has been tracking new hotspots as they emerge, now that the more transmissible Delta variant has become the dominant strain in the U.S. According to the study, the number of new cases has increased 100% over the last two weeks in Louisiana, as well as Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
The city of Lafayette has a vaccination rate of just 36%, well below the national rate of around 50%.
Screenshots of Guidry’s tweets have since gone viral, and users have been quick to criticize her views on the nation’s vaccination policy. However, those posting negatively about the nurse’s death have received their share of backlash as well.
Guidry’s family didn’t say whether she changed her views on the vaccine after coming down with the virus. They also said she suffered from a pre-existing heart condition.
Ochsner Health, the New Orleans-based company that owns the hospital where she used to work, says around 50% of its staff is vaccinated. Officials added that they considered implementing a vaccine mandate, but they will wait until it receives final approval from the FDA.
Chief human resources officer Tracey Schir recently said, “We’re having executive discussions around an incentive based on what we’ve seen from peers across the country. Some of our thinking is it may be something we want to put there for our employees to thank them for getting the vaccine and continuing to encourage people to get the vaccine.”
Dr. Britni Herbert, from the Lafayette Internal Medicine Clinic, commented on the recent uptick in COVID-19 deaths, “We lost not just a 23-year-old this weekend, we just lost a 31-year-old in Lafayette all this past weekend to COVID, and these are unspeakable tragedies.”
“It’s pretty depressing to see the number start to climb this early. The climb should be slower because we do have about a third of the population vaccinated and that will slow the onset of this surge but it’s definitely looking like the beginning of another surge,” she added.