'Not a good combination': COVID-19 hospitalizations increase as nationwide nursing shortage strikes Wisconsin

NOW: ’Not a good combination’: COVID-19 hospitalizations increase as nationwide nursing shortage strikes Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58)-- Two nationwide COVID-19 trends are hitting home. Wisconsin is experiencing a rise in hospitalizations, and struggling to find enough nurses to care for those patients.

"Increasing hospitalizations coupled with staffing shortages is not a good combination," Associate Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin Dr. Ben Weston said during Tuesday's Milwaukee County COVID-19 briefing.

Weston fears Milwaukee County is headed in a dangerous direction. There are 243 people in the hospital, the highest it's been since early January.

"We haven't reached a point where we're turning away patients," Weston said.

That might not be the case for long. About 85 percent of ICU beds are occupied in the Milwaukee area. Plus, there's not enough health care workers.

"We're certainly feeling that in Wisconsin," Weston said about the nationwide nursing shortage. "I think the reasons for that include, certainly, burnout." 

He added that some health care workers are leaving for jobs with higher pay or are quarantined from exposure to the virus.

Local hospitals, including Advocate Aurora, are trying to hire new nurses and keep the ones they have by offering competitive pay and incentives.

COVID-19 cases hit a plateau. Doctors aren't sure why, but with kids going back to school, they worry it won't stay that way for long.

Vaccines continue to be the best way to fight COVID. Although, Weston worries people are spreading misinformation just as fast as the virus.

He quoted a study from The Economist that found 20 percent of people in the United States believe the government is using the vaccine to put microchips in people.

"There does not exist such a microchip with tracking capabilities that can fit through needles and be injected into our bodies," Weston said.

Another myth, he pointed out, is the vaccine is experimental and deadly.

"You'd be hard pressed to find a medication or certainly a vaccine that's been administered that broadly, and certainly, that's been as closely studied as these vaccines," Weston said.

He hopes more people fight misinformation with facts, and if you have real concerns, Weston suggests asking your doctor, not the internet.

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