State leaders request federal help as hospitalizations increase, additional Omicron variant detected

97% of the state's ICU beds in use
COVID-19 hospital nurse
Posted at 3:01 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 18:44:22-05

MADISON, Wis. — The rise in new COVID cases and hospitalizations has the state now seeking federal help for its staff-challenged hospitals. That coupled with three more cases of the Omicron variant detected in the state, as of Wednesday.

Wisconsin’s top health official says that 270 health care facilities in the state have requested staffing help and the state has asked for medical reserve teams from the federal government to provide relief.

As of Tuesday, more than 1,600 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. Leaders say that is an increase of more than 200 patients in just week. Hospitals are not only near capacity, they are short on staff. To help out on the front lines, the state is asking the Biden Administration to send 5 teams, to align 100 federal healthcare workers to help with staffing.

"Real strategy here is to use those staff strategically to make sure we can free up capacity in our ICU," said Karen Timberlake, Department of Health Services Secretary-designee.

Leaders said patients hospitalized are younger and are staying in the hospital longer and it's mainly the Delta variant causing this surge.

With trends going in the wrong direction, state leaders are also looking at bringing in more help to ensure hospitals don't get to capacity.

"Staffing contracts, expanding CNA training, bringing in additional federal resources," Timberlake stated.

Back in October, a staffing contract was created to fill critical gaps and leaders said 270 hospitals have requested that support.

Beyond ICU capacity, health care officials say they are closely monitoring flu transmission.

"We don't have anymore capacity for that next wave of contagious illness, particularly one like the flu," Timberlake said.

Ultimately, they say each person can help reduce the burden on hospitals and the spread of COVID-19 by following the same safety precautions that have been in place for more than a year.

"COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and is the best tool to keep ourselves, loved ones and communities healthy and safe period," Gov. Tony Evers said.

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