With New COVID Cases Surpassing 2,000 Per Day, Wisconsin Hospitals Are Filling Up Again

St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac. (Image via Shutterstock)



By Julian Emerson

August 25, 2021

The Delta variant is striking down the unvaccinated and setting a daily death total not seen since February.

Wisconsin recorded 2,170 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, the highest one-day total since January, and more people infected with the virus are requiring hospitalization, prompting concerns among county health officials.

The number of new cases of the virus has climbed steadily in recent weeks as more people are contracting the highly contagious Delta variant. More people are dying from the virus as well. On Tuesday, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) reported 21 deaths, the highest one-day total since February.

Statewide, 804 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, a number that has risen for weeks and is the highest since January, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association figures. Almost 250 of those patients are in intensive care.

The vast majority of those hospitalized have not been vaccinated against the virus. In Wisconsin, 50.8% of all residents have received both COVID-19 shots.

Wisconsin hospital officials said they are preparing for another surge similar to one last fall when hospitals were overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. Some hospitals have restricted the number of visitors and are revamping operations to accommodate more COVID-19 patients.

St. Croix County Health Officer Kelli Engen said she, other public health officials, and healthcare providers are examining hospital capacity in the region as COVID-19 cases keep growing.

“We don’t have a ton of ICU beds specific to St. Croix County,” Engen said, noting some COVID-19 patients were forced to seek hospitalization elsewhere during the virus surge last fall.

In the northwest Wisconsin region, where St. Croix County is located, three of 72 ICU beds were available as of Wednesday morning. While hospitals’ surge plans significantly boost available beds to treat COVID-19 patients, the lack of available ICU beds is a sign of fast-growing virus cases, health officers said.

“Hospital capacity is an increasing concern. People need to take this seriously,” said Lieske Giese, Eau Claire City-County Health Department director. Eau Claire and Chippewa counties are among Wisconsin counties experiencing especially high levels of virus transmission. 

Of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, 60 are considered to have high virus transmission activity and the remaining 12 have a very high transmission rate, according to DHS.

County health officers say coronavirus cases could shoot upward even further with the start of a new school year and many Wisconsin school districts not requiring that students and staff wear face masks to slow virus transmission. That, in turn, could prompt increased hospitalizations, they said.


CATEGORIES: Coronavirus


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