Wisconsin activates field hospital amid COVID-19 surge

Wisconsin health officials will activate a field hospital located at the state's fairgrounds in order to help relieve the strain on medical facilities overwhelmed by a massive influx of COVID-19 patients.

Gov. Tony EversTony EversWisconsin state GOP lawmaker calls for party to 'cheat like Democrats' to win elections Sen. Ron Johnson: Straight from the horse's mouth Wisconsin GOP bill would count prior COVID-19 infection as immunity MORE (D) on Wednesday said the 530-bed facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park near Milwaukee will begin accepting coronavirus patients within the next week.

Evers said that hospitals across the state are worried about reaching capacity and the field site is opening at the request of hospital leaders. 

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Wisconsin in the past month has become a hot spot for COVID-19 infections. Officials reported an average of nearly 2,500 new cases a day in the last week alone, a 28 percent increase over 14 days. 

On Sept. 7, there were 289 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wisconsin. One month later, hospitalizations have nearly tripled, with 853 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

“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 in a statement. 

The facility will serve COVID-19 patients who need care but are not seriously ill. According to the state, the goal of this facility is to transition coronavirus patients whose cases are less serious out of hospitals and reserve beds for patients who are more ill and in need of hospital-level care.  

The move comes a day after Evers directed the state's Department of Health Services to issue an order limiting the size of crowds at bars, restaurants and other public spaces. 

The order is set to take effect Thursday morning and will limit some indoor public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of the total occupancy limit for a room or building. 

State Republicans have continually challenged Evers's orders amid the pandemic, and Wisconsin's Supreme Court in May struck down his stay-at-home order, which included restrictions on businesses.  

A judge is currently considering a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state's mask mandate.