Southeast Wisconsin hospitals report 90-percent capacity as virus cases surge

NOW: Southeast Wisconsin hospitals report 90-percent capacity as virus cases surge

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- While Wednesday's numbers were down, Wisconsin is still one of the country’s top COVID-19 hot spots.

Hospitals all across Wisconsin are reaching capacity levels, some already at 90%.

But health experts tell us it’s actually much worse than it looks.

“We’re one of the worst states in the country right now as far as COVID cases,” said Dr. Jeff Pothof, an emergency physician and chief quality officer at UW Health in Madison.

Dr. Pothof says staff at his, and other hospitals statewide, are facing a dire situation.

“We continue to see record-breaking numbers of patients testing positive,” said Pothof. “We continue to see increased hospitalizations, increased deaths, we’re in the midst of a fire in Wisconsin right now.”

Since Tuesday, the State Department of Health Services reported 3,815 new cases and 45 deaths.

“The mask-wearing has increased, but the other mitigation strategies like social distancing, hand-washing and do not congregate in a small area, those things actually spiked up,” said Dr. Nilanjan Lodh, an expert in infectious diseases and public health.

Dr. Lodh says most cases are among 18 to 29-year-olds.

In Wisconsin there are currently 1,439 people hospitalized due to the virus, with 339 of them in the ICU.

Both are all-time highs.

Hospitals in the Fox Valley are reporting 89% capacity, and in the southeast, they’re reporting 90% capacity.

“Once we go to that capacity, then it will be much more they will have to make difficult decisions like which patient should be prioritized to give critical care,” said Dr. Lodh.

Health experts say it’s a dire situation because that remaining ten or so percent is usually reserved for spaces that aren’t equipped to accommodate coronavirus patients.

“It’s really putting a strain on the resources of not only our health care resources but other hospitals in the state,” said Dr. Pothof. “It’s dicey.”

Both doctors say even though we’re all feeling COVID-19 fatigue and we’re tired of wearing masks and social distancing, we really need to do our best to avoid gatherings of any kind and be proactive, because we’re running out of time.

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