Wisconsin facing hospital bed shortage as COVID-19 cases climb

The Wisconsin hospital system has neared capacity for intensive care beds as health care workers struggle to care for COVID-19 patients amid a spate of new infections reported in the state.

Wisconsin intensive care beds are 96 percent occupied, according to the state’s Department of Health. From November 24 through December 7, ICU patients rose more than 10 percent, with 399 ICU patients reported on December 6. More than 1,500 COVID-19 patients have been reported in the hospital system.

Hospital staff call it a crisis as it is reaching the limits of its capacity.

“We’re full. Period,” Eric Conley, CEO of Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, said at a forum on Wisconsin Public Radio. “It is really drastic and hinders the care of the patients who are not sick with COVID and who need care, because it is just very, very difficult to get to our beds.”

Wisconsin has hit an all-time high in daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, reporting nearly 4,000 cases on December 8, for a total of 905,850. The number of cases began to surge after a decline in July, when around 100 cases were reported daily.

government Tony EversTony EversWisconsin Democratic Governor Vetoed Restrictive Abortion Laws DA: Placing an “inappropriately low” bail on a suspect in a parade attack “resulted in tragedy” Wisconsin Supreme Court hands victory to the GOP in an important ruling on new Congress cards MORE (D) reportedly calls for 100 FEMA employees to assist hospitals while 60 National Guard soldiers were called in as nursing assistants, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Evers and state health officials are still urging all residents to get vaccinated, with 59 percent of the state population receiving at least one dose.

“If you’re not vaccinated for COVID-19, your chances of ending up in the hospital are nine times higher than if you were fully vaccinated,” Karen Timberlake, the assistant secretary for the health department, said in a statement to the state. “With so many hospitals and health workers already stressed out caring for COVID-19 patients, other reasons make it increasingly difficult to treat patients.”

Evers drew attention to the variant of Omicron, a new strain of the virus that has alerted health authorities since it was discovered in South Africa last month. Wisconsin has confirmed three cases of the new variant, and Evers said the state is still learning how dangerous it is.

“As we learn more about this new variant and how easily it spreads, it is vital that all Wisconsinites continue to practice good public health safety practices,” he said Thursday.

Other states, including Maine and Michigan, are also grappling with record numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

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