MILWAUKEE — In a statewide briefing Friday, Gov. Tony Evers and the Department of Health Services warned that Wisconsin is in a more dire situation now, than last spring when COVID-19 first spiked.
More than 1,400 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in our state, causing hospital staffing strains in all parts of Wisconsin, according to DHS Secretary Designee Andrea Palm.
Beds in intensive care units continue to fill. The Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park is now treating 8 patients, it’s highest number yet.
“Every time you choose to stay home, every time you decline a party invitation, every time you choose take-out over dining-in, and every time you make another sacrifice after months of sacrifices, you help stop the spread,” Evers said.
Wisconsin added 5,096 new confirmed cases of coronavirus Friday. Only once before has the daily number ever been that high.
To put the surge in perspective, over the past two months, Wisconsin’s seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has increased by more than 500 percent. Palm revealed the seven-day average Friday is 4,231 cases. One month ago it was 2,334 cases. Two months ago it was 696 cases.
Dr. Ryan Westergaard with DHS, says it could get worse before it gets better, based on statewide COVID-19 antibody surveys.
“The worst-case scenario is that it’s really just getting started,” he said. “Right now, probably few than about 10 percent of people in Wisconsin have been infected, which means 90 percent are still unexposed and susceptible.”
He wants to remind everyone that people can still be at risk of developing the virus and experiencing symptoms, two weeks after being exposed to it. That’s why, he says, physical distancing, wearing masks in public, and hand washing are essential.
With Election Day Tuesday, and so many campaign events leading up to it, Gov. Evers says all government leaders - both at the state and federal level - need to set the example.
“If we want to do this right, and stop the virus in its tracks, people have to wear a freaking mask,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. How can we convince people to do that? We need to have our leaders wearing a mask. Practice what you preach.”
Evers also asking Wisconsinites to be mindful of how they celebrate Halloween this weekend.
“Please stay home,” he said. “Avoid any in-person parties or get-togethers. Don’t go to other homes or have people in your own home, who are outside of your immediate household. Go trick-or-treating virtually. Host a costume party or scary movie night on Zoom.“
These small sacrifices could save a life in this pandemic.
“We owe it to the people who have lost their lives from this, and their family and friends - as well as our loved ones and ourselves - to do all we can to stay home,” Palm said. “We need to wear our masks and physically distance. We need to practice good hand hygiene, and if you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, please get tested. Then, if you’re positive, it’s imperative you quarantine and notify anyone you were in close contact with.”
Twenty-four more people have died from coronavirus in Wisconsin, from Thursday to Friday. That brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in our state to 1,972, since the pandemic began.
While Evers and health leaders admit these latest numbers are alarming and disappointing, they do remain hopeful and say it’s not too late to turn them around and flatten the curve once again.
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