COVID hospitalizations: Wisconsin requests FEMA help

Ninety-seven percent of Wisconsin's intensive care unit beds are taken as state hospitals report being inundated with COVID-19 patients.

Gov. Tony Evers has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help out as Wisconsin hospitals worry.

"They are very, very full. ICUs are getting to the stress point of being maxed out," said Eric Borgerding, president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

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The Wisconsin Hospital Association reports that only 3% of ICU beds are open statewide – that is 45 available right now out of more than 1,300 beds.

"We have about 1,700 people in the hospital right now due to COVID, just a few months ago, it was about a hundred," Borgerding said.

Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers

Now, Evers is looking for federal help. 

"I personally was on the phone with leaders from the White House talking about getting help through FEMA," said Evers. "We think we will be in a position to accept some of that help in the near future, but we monitor it on a regular basis. If we have to go back to the drawing board, we certainly will."

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The governor told FOX6 News he is certain that FEMA will help Wisconsin, but they are hammering out the details of who might come.

"(To) expand intensive care-type capacity regionally, that can free up some beds in regions," Borgerding said.

What about the alternative care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park? It was activated in October 2020, and the state reports that the facility treated roughly 200 people. As COVID-19 hospitalizations declined in March 2021, the state closed down that site.

"If we want to keep it open, likely we wouldn't have the State Fair this last summer," said Evers. "We had a much better situation, and closing it was the right move – so we will continue to monitor this.

COVID-19 alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park

COVID-19 alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park

A FEMA spokesperson confirmed to FOX6 that the agency has received Evers' request. Other states are also asking for assistance.

Froedtert Hospital said the majority of its COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

In December 2020, before vaccines, Wisconsin had roughly 1,800 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 complications. The statewide average dropped as time went on, but is now back up to more than 1,600 patients.


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