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Rise in COVID patients prompt doctors in Wisconsin to ask for help to stop the spread

In Amery, doctors report a tenfold increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past eight weeks after having no COVID-19 patients in July.

HUDSON, Wis. — COVID-19 trends are going the wrong way in Wisconsin. Health officials say the average positivity rate over the past seven days is 8.5% based on the number of tests people have taken.

This, as nearly 94% of the state's ICU beds are in use, including at Hudson Hospital. The chief of staff says half of the beds are full with COVID patients, most of whom are unvaccinated.

Just last year, that hospital expanded its emergency department and doubled its capacity.

"We're seeing more and more patients," says HealthPartner's hospitalist Karen Moeller. "In the last month, we've really been piquing." 

The surge is forcing the chief of staff to send other patients to other hospitals, otherwise they might wait for a bed for up to six hours.

"If I can't care for them here, it's not only frustrating for me, but frustrating for my patients in my community," said chief of staff Levon O'hAodha. "It's exhausting seeing something that is ultimately a vaccine preventable disease."

It has some western Wisconsin doctors taking a new step to encourage vaccination, like Amery Hospital's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Sura. He helped pen this letter to the editor of the Amery Free Press newspaper called "Help stop the spread in this community."

"At Amery Hospital & Clinic, we went the entire month of July without admitting a patient with COVID-19. Since then, we’ve routinely been caring for three, four or five patients with COVID-19 at a time."

Another part reads, "We are committed to continuing our 65-year history of caring for our community, but we all need to do our part in stopping this pandemic. Vaccines will help us do that."

The message is simple. The newspaper is local. The doctors are hopeful it will hit home and help bring down case numbers and save lives.

In Polk County, where Amery is located, Dr. Sura says the vaccination rate is only around 55%.

He said he'd like to see them closer to 80%

In Wisconsin, just 54% of the population has fully vaccinated. 

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