Hospitals already filling to capacity, could face possible holiday surge

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - With COVID-19 cases still rising, hospitals are already overwhelmed.

Now, many could face what could be a surge of new patients after the Thanksgiving holiday.

“The situation is pretty bad right now,” said Eric Borgerding, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association.  “There are dozens of hospitals in Wisconsin that are at their capacity,” he said.

“There’s entire regions of the state that have single-digit numbers of ICU beds available,” said Dr. Ben Weston from the Office of Emergency Management.

When cases began spreading like wildfire in Wisconsin, beds started filling up fast.

“We are at some really critical shortages right now, driven almost entirely by, again, what really is the root cause of all this -- community spread of COVID,” said Bogerding.

In Milwaukee County, the ICU is 78% full, and regular floor beds are at 88%.  Dr. Weston says that can change fast.

“In the southeastern part of Wisconsin we’re lucky to have larger health systems, we’re lucky to have larger hospitals, but we also have larger populations, so those hospital beds go a lot faster,” said Dr. Weston.

And if that’s not bad enough, a holiday built on getting together with family is right around the corner.

“I’m not sure how much more planning honestly can be put into place for a surge that comes after Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Weston. “We can see across the state that regular floor beds are getting filled up, ICU beds are getting filled up.”

That’s why experts are again urging people to stay home this holiday, and see family virtually.

They say the only way hospitals will be able to get a handle on this pandemic, is if the public does first.

“Change needs to occur, change on an individual level, on a community level to control the spread,” said Dr. Weston.

“We really need to do more to turn things around in Wisconsin,” said Bogerding.

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