State issues public health advisory on Omicron COVID-19 variant, some hospitals delaying elective surgeries

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 4:38 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 18:36:57-05

MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has issued a Public Health Advisory on Monday with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 looming.

DHS says 19 cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in the state and 5 percent of all positive tests are being sent to labs to detect the variant.

“This means that Omicron is here and spreading in Wisconsin” says DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake.

Governor Tony Evers (D) issued a statement following the advisory.

“I urge every Wisconsinite to take immediate action and get the COVID-19 vaccine and your booster dose if you haven’t received it already—this is critically important for mitigating surges in hospitalizations and deaths across our state… Please get the vaccine, continue following public health best practices, and do your part to help slow the spread of the Omicron variant” said Evers.

Hospital capacity is a concern as there are more people in the hospital with COVID than any other time in 2021.

“Our healthcare organizations have been pushed to the breaking point, and it is quite possible that omicron will push us past the breaking point” said Dr. William Melms, Chief Medical Officer at Marshfield Clinic Healthcare System.

Dr. Melms’ hospital system and others across the state have delayed elective surgery because of the need to use the nursing staff in other parts of the hospital. Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin says its had to delay deferrable surgeries that require beds in the hospital.

The state’s top infectious disease doctor says wearing a mask indoors, taking COVID tests before gathering with family this holiday weekend and keeping those gatherings small are ways to avoid spread. Most importantly, is getting the vaccine, says Dr. Ryan Westergaard.

“If you’ve been someone who’s decided to not get vaccinated at this point, please reconsider, please get vaccinated and get a booster dose for the sake of our collective public health," he said.

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