COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state are skyrocketing and Milwaukee County is seeing similar trends

NOW: COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state are skyrocketing and Milwaukee County is seeing similar trends

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) - Doctors say COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state are “skyrocketing,” and Milwaukee County is now seeing similar troubling trends.

In April plans to open the COVID-19 Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park in West Allis came to a halt when the extra beds were not needed, but if trends continue the way they are it may have to be used after all.

“I hope we never have to go to the state fair site,” said Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee.

State officials say we are in a crisis with 17 new deaths reported Tuesday, the highest since May 30th.

“Health departments not being able to notify people that are exposed tells the same story that we are in a crisis right now,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Chief Medical Officer.  

The last seven days brought more than 170 new hospitalizations.

“640 hospitalizations as of Monday, that’s far higher than the previous peak of 440 back in April,” said Dr. Ben Weston, Medical Director for Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

For Milwaukee County, hospital trends are also on the rise.

Our hospitalizations have similarly increased from around 70 a few weeks ago to 124 as of Tuesday,” said Dr. Weston.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says regions north of Milwaukee are expressing concern for capacity of treating patients with and without COVID-19. On Tuesday, the northeast region saw a more than 10-percent increase in hospitalizations.

“The toll on those systems particularly when you’re seeing some staffing shortages as staff are exposed to COVID-19 make their jobs increasingly difficult,” said Andrea Palm, Secretary-Designee for Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

“We’re setting records now at a point where it’s the beginning of respiratory virus season, the likelihood of this getting worse before it gets better is a real one,” said Dr. Westergaard.

Dr. Weston says Milwaukee County hospitals are working closely to come up with surge plans. He says the State Fair Park COVID-19 Alternate Care Facility could work as overflow if needed by hospitals

We’ll certainly see what comes with surges and hospitalizations. We’re seeing concerning trends right now so certainly happy to have those surge plans in place in the alternative care facility standing ready,” Dr. Weston adds.

“Now is the time to urgently do what we need to do to flatten the curve, and that is work we need to do so that we don’t get to the point of needing to open the alternate care facility,” said Palm.

Health experts say right now people have to be more vigilant than ever in mask usage and physical distancing in order to reverse the trend.

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