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Wisconsin opening alternate care facility to deal with rising COVID-19 hospitalizations

The state's COVID-19 hospitalizations have tripled in the past month.

Wisconsin's COVID-19 situation has worsened to the point that the state has decided to open an alternate care facility to help care for patients who are now overflowing the state's hospital system. 

"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," Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement. "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."

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, 853 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized as of Tuesday. That's an increase of 190 since Friday, and represents an approximate tripling of hospitalizations in the state since there were 289 patients in hospital care on Sept. 7. 

Wisconsin's COVID-19 reaction plans dissect the state into seven regions, four of which have seen hospitalizations "more than quadrupled" since Sept. 7, according to Evers, who noted in his release that "hospital leaders in Green Bay, Appleton, Neenah, and Wausau are reporting ICUs at capacity" in addition to critical staffing shortages. 

“Our hospital system is strained and in some areas of the state reaching capacity and at risk of being overwhelmed,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “And as COVID-19 cases rise, hospitals across the state are experiencing critical staffing shortages – largely due to staff members experiencing infection or exposure to the virus in their communities."

84% of Wisconsin's hospital beds are currently occupied, and are being stressed in four of the seven regions. 

84% of Wisconsin's hospital beds are currently occupied, and are being stressed in four of the seven regions. 

The alternate care facility is located at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, which is a western suburb of Milwaukee. It'll serve as a care facility for non-critical COVID-19 patients, essentially serving as a facility that can hold patients who are transitioning out of normal hospital care. 

The plan is to open the alternate care facility within the next week. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, it has room for 530 patients, including 296 spaces for patients to receive oxygen.  

While the Wisconsin Department of Health has maintained full transparency by providing daily current hospitalization numbers, the Minnesota Department of Health stopped reporting current hospitalizations on Sept. 24. Instead, in Minnesota, the health department only reports the number of new hospitalizations and ICU admissions once a week (every Thursday). 

You can find all of the COVID-19 statistics from the Department of Health right here

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