Story at a glance
- Wisconsin has become a coronavirus hot spot over the past several weeks.
- State officials said Wednesday that due to the increase in COVID-19 cases last month hospitals fear they may soon reach capacity.
- Hospitals are also experiencing critical staff shortages.
Wisconsin will be opening a field hospital at the state fairgrounds near Milwaukee next week as a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations is threatening to overwhelm hospital systems, Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced Wednesday.
The state has become one of the nation’s new COVID-19 hot spots in recent weeks and has ranked third nationwide this week in daily new cases per capita, according to The Associated Press. Health officials have attributed the surge to the reopening of universities and K-12 schools and fatigue among the public over health measures such as wearing masks and social distancing.
State officials said Wednesday that due to the increase in COVID-19 cases last month, hospitals fear they may soon reach capacity.
In early September, there were 289 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, but on Wednesday, state officials said 853 patients are hospitalized across the state and 216 are in intensive care. About 16 percent of the state’s hospital beds are currently available.
“We hoped this day wouldn’t come, but unfortunately, Wisconsin is in a much different, more dire place today and our healthcare systems are beginning to become overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 cases,” Evers said Wednesday in a press release.
“This alternative care facility will take some of the pressure off our healthcare facilities while expanding the continuum of care for folks who have COVID-19,” he said.
The governor’s office said hospitals are also experiencing critical worker shortages as staff members are becoming infected or exposed to the virus.
The alternative care facility will open on Oct. 14 and has space for 530 patients. The facility will not accept walk-in patients, but will instead coordinate with hospitals to treat those who are not seriously ill in need of hospital-level care.
Since the start of the pandemic, Wisconsin has confirmed 138,698 coronavirus cases and 1,415 deaths, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
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