By STACEY PLAISANCE
JEFFERSON, La. (AP) — The rapidly escalating surge in COVID-19 infections is once again overwhelming hospitals across the U.S. That is especially true in hot spots such as Louisiana, which hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations last week. Nearly 2,900 virus patients have been admitted to hospitals — and state health officials say the number of cases may not peak for several more weeks. Louisiana has the country’s fourth-lowest vaccination rate. Ochsner Health is the largest health care provider in Louisiana. Workers at its main campus in Jefferson say nursing staff is stretched especially thin amid the current outbreak. Doctors and nurses are working extra hours and taking on added duties. Some of their patients say they regret not getting vaccinated.