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Wisconsin health official warns state nearing ‘tipping point’ on COVID hospitalizations

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A top health department official in Wisconsin says the state is nearing a point at which some patients who need lifesaving care will be unable to receive it due to overcrowding in hospitals resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, said during a discussion hosted by Wisconsin Health News that the state was nearing a “tipping point” in terms of the number of hospitalizations caused by the virus that could result in hospitals being overwhelmed.

“In terms of the number of cases we’re finding, this is as bad as that early, severe wave in New York City,” Westergaard said.

“We’re very close to a tipping point, and I think right now all the hospitals are strained, and it’s causing a lot of stress on health care workers and leaders, but the case fatality rate has remained kind of low,” he continued.

Westergaard added that health officials in the state were primarily focused on avoiding a potential scenario in which Wisconsinites suffering from ailments not related to COVID-19 were unable to receive care or even died due to hospitals being too overcrowded or understaffed to treat all patients efficiently.

His comments come as Wisconsin, along with most states in the U.S., has seen a rapid surge in its number of new confirmed coronavirus cases. State health officials reported 7,416 new cases on Tuesday, the second-highest single-day total for new confirmed infections in Wisconsin.

Just over 2,000 people are hospitalized in the state due to COVID-19, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard website, and 606 patients are using ventilators, about one-quarter of the state’s total supply.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Wisconsin

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