Gov. Evers activates field hospital as COVID-19 keeps surging

The pandemic is "out of control in Wisconsin." Those are the words used by Governor Tony Evers on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Because of this, the governor has activated a field hospital at the state fairgrounds in West Allis -- as a surge in COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

Alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center for treating COVID-19 patients

Alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center for treating COVID-19 patients

A place that typically houses fairgoers has taken on a new purpose in 2020. Starting next Wednesday, it will be the site of 530 beds mean for COVID-19 patients. 

"Yesterday I warned that our health care systems were teetering, and they are on the brink. Unfortunately today we announced that we have received a request to open our alternative care facility," Evers said. "On September 7th there were 289 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wisconsin. In just one month that number has nearly tripled with 853 hospitalizations as of yesterday."

Alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center for treating COVID-19 patients

Alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center for treating COVID-19 patients

The alternate care facility was built at the state fairgrounds in the spring -- and is just now being put into action.

"This alternate care facility at the state fair park will take some of the pressure off the system by providing 530 additional patient spaces while expanding the continuum of care for folks who have COVID-19," the governor said.

Gov. Evers said hospitals are nearing capacity for COVID-19 patients -- and while they will still focus on those in critical care, the West Allis site helps those who are on the verge of beating it and need minimal attention.

"To be clear, this is not a hospital, and the state fair park facility will not accept walk-in patients. Patients will be admitted to this facility in coordination with our healthcare providers," Evers said.

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Alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center for treating COVID-19 patients

Alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Expo Center for treating COVID-19 patients

The alternate care facility will be staffed by volunteers, state workers and National Guard members, DOA officials said. Patients will not be allowed to have visitors.

Several other states moved to set up field hospitals in the early stages of the pandemic — at great expense — only to find that they got little to no use, and many were shut down.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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