MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin health leaders stressed COVID-19 patients are stretching hospital capacity during a briefing on Thursday.
Prevea Health's president and CEO said their Green Bay hospital had to turn away 28 patients in one day.
"One of our hospitals had to say no to 28 patients being transferred in that needed them, including three strokes. Those families, unfortunately, had to have their family members transferred over to one to 200 miles away," said Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health.
Dr. Rai explained COVID-19 patients are extremely labor-intensive taking up multiple beds and staff.
"One COVID patient may take away up to three beds for a different type of disease," Dr. Rai said.
The most recent state data showed the number of COVID patients hospitalized and in the ICU climbing closer to what we saw this time last year.
Overall, 92 percent of the state's hospital beds and 96 percent of ICU beds are being used.
Health officials reported a majority of patients are unvaccinated.
The most recently available data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services showed those who were not fully vaccinated and hospitalized are 11 times higher than those who were, and 14 times more when it came to deaths.
Wisconsin health leaders stressed the urgent need to take preventative steps against COVID-19 including vaccinations, masking up in indoor public spaces, staying home when sick, and frequently washing your hands as we enter a busy season for hospitals.
Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake for the Department of Health Services reported the number of new confirmed cases each day has reached levels not seen since last December. Timberlake added that delta remains the dominant strain in Wisconsin.
"We need to buckle down and commit to taking these steps," said Timberlake.
While research is still being conducted on the omicron variant, it is believed to spread more easily than the delta variant.