Olivia Guidry was a nurse in Lafayette, Louisiana, who died of complications from COVID-19 on July 10, 2021. The 24-year-old Louisiana native worked in the emergency room at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center. Guidry’s parents and boyfriend are also battling coronavirus, according to social media posts from friends and family members.
“My sweet girl, there are so many things that I could say but my heart simply cannot find the words. I will miss you every day for the rest of my life … A beautiful, smart, kind, and loving girl with so much life left to live and who lived life with such joy and vibrancy,” her sister, Brittany Guidry Smith said in a now-private Facebook post. “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.”
A family friend, Hal LeJeune, wrote on Facebook, “Please keep our sweet friend Olivia Guidry’s family in your prayers as she gained her Angel Wings today. Such a sweet soul gone way too soon. RIP Livi you will be missed dearly…..💔🙏🏼😪 Please continue to Pray for her Dad Wendall’s healing and her Mom Vonda Guidry’s healing. Please pray for her sister Brittany Smith as well. It’s a very trying time right now with her being pregnant and her parents sick. Lift this family up in your Thoughts and Prayers for the next week as they endure what is never easy to go through.”
Olivia Guidry’s death has gained national attention after anti-vaccine posts she made on social media surfaced after she died. Screenshots of the anti-vax tweets from her now-deleted Twitter account have been shared widely and have gone viral, leading to criticism of her statements about the COVID-19 vaccine and also backlash against those who are posting negatively about her death. Guidry’s family members have not said if she had changed her views on the coronavirus vaccine prior to her death or if she was vaccinated against COVID-19.
Ochsner Health, the New Orleans-based company that owns the hospital where Guidry worked, has not mandated that its 30,000 employees be vaccinated, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Chief human resources officer Tracey Schiro told the trade publication in May 2021, “In speaking with our CMO about the mandatory status, we feel that until there is FDA final approval, then we will continue to evaluate thinking about making it mandatory. Today, we do have the flu vaccine as a mandatory requirement unless someone has a medical or religious exemption, so once it’s approved by FDA, I think we’ll consider that and make our decision. 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.”
Schiro said 55 percent of employees had been vaccinated as of April 2021, telling Becker’s Hospital Review, “I do think those have been successful. I know we have a high percentage of employees vaccinated compared to some of our peers across the country, so I think those targeted communications and having open sessions for employees to ask questions of physicians and experts in different areas has been very beneficial in getting a majority of our employees vaccinated.”
There were 2,395 new COVID-19 cases reported on Monday, July 12, in Louisiana, according to KADN, with eight new deaths. Louisiana trails only Mississippi among the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with 35% vaccinated, according to KLFY. The “Louisiana Department of Health reports that 99% of Louisiana coronavirus deaths were unvaccinated patients,” a Louisiana healthcare official, Melissa Hodgson, told WWL on July 12. “The more vaccinated people in our community who are no longer hospitable hosts, the less effectively COVID-19 can spread locally.”
Dr. Britni Herbert, of the Lafayette Internal Medicine Clinic, told KADN on July 12, “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. We are very concerned in the healthcare community because in Lafayette we are at a 36% vaccination rate, which is well below protection and people are getting together more relaxed and masks are definitely not on their minds anymore. 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.”
Here’s what you need to know about Olivia Guidry:
Guidry Died After Several Days Battling Coronavirus Complications in the Intensive Care Unit at the Hospital Where She Worked
Guidry died in the intensive care unit at Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center, where she worked, after battling COVID-19 complications for several days, according to now-private Facebook posts from her sister that chronicled her illness and were transcribed by Twitter user @websterchrista. Guidry was moved to the ICU on July 7, several days after being diagnosed with coronavirus, her sister said, after her fever spiked and she suffered a seizure. She was intubated that day. Her sister said her chest X-ray showed minor pneumonia.
Her sister, Brittany Smith, said doctors initially thought they would be able to wean her off of the ventilator, but she was then placed into a medically induced coma on the morning of July 8 because she was showing signs of brain damage, swelling and fluid on the brain. According to her sister’s posts, an infectious disease doctor believed Guidry was in a cytokine storm and she was treated with high-dose steroids and antibodies.
Ashleigh Clark wrote on Facebook on July 10, “Thank you everyone for the prayers. We are waiting for more test results at this time and waiting to hear from Olivia’s neurologist. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayer for Olivia and our family. She made it through the night last night. We are now waiting on tests to be done to determine what type of brain activity she has. Doctors will be doing an EEG and breathing test. She has been weaned off sedation meds so they can see if she is breathing in her own. I ask that everyone share and update friends and family from this post. Please continue to pray that God will do a miracle in Olivia Guidry. We are believing and standing alongside each of you.”
Clark then updated her post and said, “Olivia has passed away. Please pray for her family, especially her parents and sister. I can’t even believe this is real. To know her was to love her.”
According to posts from 2019 on Guidry’s Facebook page, she had a pre-existing heart condition. She wrote in September 2019, “So we did testing on Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic to see the impact that my fistula is having on my heart. They stuck a catheter through my neck, down to my heart. They took blood samples from each chamber laying down and then had me to an extensive workout on a bike. At my peak workout, they took more blood samples to test oxygenation. At this time, no intervention is needed and they said my heart passed the test with flying colors. They found that I did indeed have a fistula on my R coronary artery AND a patent foramen ovale (something that should close shortly after birth). They said my pressures in my chambers were excellent. He said one of my numbers were 1.3 and needed to be 1.5 to operate. THANKFULLY, everything went okay because I would have had to have OPEN HEART surgery then and there. He states he does not believe the fistula is causing my shortness of breath due to the test results. So, we still have a mystery on our hands but also have a huge blessing. Thank you for all of your prayers and support.”
Ochsner Health, where Guidry worked, began offering the vaccine to its employees in December 2020. In January 2021, the company’s president and CEO, Warner Thomas, expressed surprise that at the time, less than half of workers in the hospital system had been vaccinated. He told the Louisiana Illuminator, “I would’ve thought we’d be higher (than 49.1 percent). We offered it pretty widely early on to a lot of folks, and honestly now it’s more difficult (to inoculate staff) because we’ve got a lot of patients we’re trying to take care of.” Thomas said at the time that the company’s priority had shifted from getting employees vaccinated to providing the vaccine to patients. He said he thought vaccine hesitancy would be going down as healthcare workers saw “are seeing their colleagues getting vaccinated more and more.”
Robert Hart, the chief medical officer at Ochsner, told the news site there was some unfounded concern among younger employees about how the vaccine would impact fertility, telling the Illuminator, “Because of all the false information on the internet about fertility, our workforce does have a lot of young staff that have concerns about that.” He added that Ochsner had, “continued to spend a lot of time educating” employees about the safety of the vaccine.
Guidry Studied Nursing at LSU Eunice & Was Aspiring to Become a Doctor
According to her now-deleted Twitter profile, Guidry was an ER critical care specialty and trauma RN. She was also an aspiring doctor, writing in her profile that she was a “Future MD.” On Instagram, Guidry wrote in her profile, “Proverbs 31:10✝ My Audi looks better than I do. •RN, BSN@ LGMC Emergency Department🚑•Future MD💉”
On Guidry’s Facebook profile, she said she had been working at the Lafayette General Medical Center since June 2018. She studied nursing at Louisiana State University Eunice, where she also was pre-med and studying biology. She previously studied nursing at Louisiana State University Alexandria. Guidry was a native of Church Point, Louisiana. Guidry, whose full name was Amy Olivia Guidry, was born October 29, 1996.
She wrote on Facebook in December 2019 along with photos from her graduation, “Olivia Guidry, RN, BSN. Now to start classes for med school in January and begin applying!🙌🏼Big things coming in 2020, praise God❤️ summa cum laude again🤪”
Ochsner Lafayette General CEO Al Patin said in a statement to KATC, “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. 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.”
Patin added, “We offer our sincerest condolences to the Guidry family, and out of privacy and respect for them during this unimaginable time, we cannot provide further comment. We are focused on providing support and counseling to our team members who worked alongside Olivia every day and are mourning the loss of their friend and colleague.”
Guidry’s Family & Friends Have Posted Tributes to Her on Social Media, Saying She Was a ‘Joy to Be Around’ & ‘To Know You Is to Love You’
Several of Guidry’s friends and family members have paid tribute to her on social media after her death. Taylor Venable Niland wrote on Facebook, “Sweet girl.. hearing this news is soul crushing. I remember you as a nurse tech in the ER and then starting your nursing career with us all— devoted and hardworking. You were a joy to be around. To know you is to love you. Thinking about all of my LGMC ER family today as they lost one of the good ones. My heart is aching. Please pray for her family and friends. Esp her parents as they have to lay their young daughter to rest❤️”
Denise Annaly Hernandez Perez wrote on Facebook, “I’m shocked, I have no words. I remember this picture like it was yesterday. When we took the picture and realized how tightly we were holding onto each other and joked about how we would never let go. You were such a beautiful soul liv, you were strong, beautiful, determined and had so much ahead for you. We talked here and there since graduation but I regret not keeping in touch with you as much as we should have. You will be missed. Look over your family, they need it. I ask that you keep Olivia Guidry ‘s family in your prayers. Rip sweet girl.”
Kelsey Mire, a fellow ER worker, shared the speech she wrote for Guidry’s vigil in a now-private Facebook post: “To my Food obsessed, zydeco dancing, rambunctious spirit, nascar driver, obnoxious laughing, brown eyed girl. Phew that was a lot. I could keep going but this speech would take forever. Though I do not know why God has called you home so early, I trust in him that he has amazing plans for you up there. To guide us, to protect us, and to love us. You have shown everyone you’ve come in contact with what it means to be a good citizen, a loving friend, an amazing daughter, a loving sister, and a caring nurse. I’ve been thinking, what if I never met this girl, then maybe I wouldn’t be so angry, confused or in pain anymore. But you’re someone I know I would’ve been jealous to not have known.”
Mire added, “To My guardian angel, I strive to be half the woman you were, to be the nurse you were and to live life like you did. Everything I do is for you and I hope To make you proud. I pray you’re up there dancing with the angels and eating all the chicken nuggets and French fries with that awful combination of honey mustard and ketchup. (I will try to learn to love it but for now I will never understand) until we meet again, rest easy my girl.”
Another co-worker, Krystle Rubin, wrote on Facebook, ” Liv, You gained your wings sis and Your ER family are all distraught about you leaving us too soon. We have lost a great nurse and most importantly a true friend. It not only took me a while to wrap my mind around the thought of losing you, but all of your family and friends, but now it is a reality and accepting that is a battle of its own. My heart is shattered and every time I go to pick the pieces up it just hurts more and more just thinking I’ll never see that beautiful smile and hear that goofy laugh of yours echoing throughout the Er (it definitely is one that unforgivable). You showed me how to look at life as a whole and not dwell on little things such as minor set back that would not matter in a few months, but would be so much more deserving upon accomplishing it. It may have broken our heart to lose you, but you did nothing go alone. Apart of us with you when God called you home with that I am forever changed, you will never be forgotten. Rest In Paradise Oli.”
Guidry’s Anti-Vaccine Misinformation Twitter Posts Falsely Saying It Is ‘Not Safe’ Have Gained Attention on Social Media
Guidry’s past Twitter posts about the COVID-19 vaccine surfaced on social media after her death, including in a viral tweet from Chris Evans, who goes by chris_notcapn on Twitter. He shared screenshots of her tweets and wrote, “Olivia died this week from COVID-19.” Guidry’s Twitter account has since been deleted, but a cached version remains.
In July 2020, Guidry, who included information in her profile about being a nurse, tweeted, “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 also retweeted on July 10 a tweet saying, “Corona tests are fake don’t @ me.”
She also tweeted misinformation falsely saying, “This vaccine has been released using recombinant DNA technology faster than any vaccine in the world. It manipulates your DNA at the tiniest molecular level. Do. Not. Get. It. It’s not safe.”
In a reply to another healthcare worker in July 2020 who said the vaccine could one day be mandated like the flu vaccine, Guidry wrote, “That’s the day I’ll leave healthcare.”
In September 2020, she replied to a tweet from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards saying that people should not be forced to vote in person, with the comment, “But we can go to Walmart? We can go shopping? We can eat at restaurants? And people can protest or RIOT? Screw you, idiot”
Dr. Cleavon Gilman tweeted, “Olivia Guidry was an emergency room nurse against vaccination that spread misinformation: ‘It manipulates your DNA at the tiniest molecular level. Do. Not. Get. It. It’s not safe.’ Her death was preventable. Vaccines are safe and don’t manipulate your DNA. #GetVaccinated.”
Some on social media have attacked commenters who have made negative posts following Guidry’s death. On Guidry’s Facebook page, a friend, Emily Prior, wrote, “yall find joy in commenting under people’s social media posts like this? yall are sick. vaccine or not, it doesnt make you immune to the virus. get a life and keep your rude comments to yourself.”
Some Have Been Critical of the Negative Posts About Guidry After Her Death & Have Defended Her on Social Media
Irin Roy wrote in response to a comment on one of Guidry’s posts saying, “what does this comment do for you man? my friends death is a f****** joke to you? so what about what she believed in, and whether or not she got the vaccine. she’s not here anymore, and all of you crazy a** people need to just get a f****** life and stop torturing her family with these sick a** comments.”
Melanie Guidry wrote on Facebook, “Could y’all two along with the ‘likers’ be any more insensitive????????? For Christ Sakes! Have some respect for her family and loved ones and keep your thoughts to y’all selves, you bunch of jerks!”
Mia Guidry said in a now-private tweet, “they got some sick and evil people in this world i just don’t understand, praying for Olivia and her family so hard today and everyday… you are a sick & evil human, no one deserves to die just because they chose not to get vaccinated please f*** off.” In response to the viral tweet from Evans, Guidry wrote, “the more i see this tweet the more it pisses me off, y’all are SICK !!!! Olivia does not deserve this.”
Macy Miller tweeted, “Baby girl just passed away and the things y’all are tweeting about her are so fucking disrespectful. Everyone has their own opinions on the vaccine. That doesn’t mean she deserved to die just because she wasn’t all for it.”