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Gov. Evers activates field hospital as COVID-19 continues Wisconsin surge

MADISON (WKOW) -- Gov. Tony Evers announced the state will open a field hospital at the state fairgrounds as a surge of COVID-19 cases overwhelm some hospitals.

The Alternate Care Facility, which will hold 530 beds, at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis will begin accepting patients next Wednesday.

"We hoped this day wouldn’t come, but unfortunately, Wisconsin is in a much different, more dire place today and our healthcare systems are beginning to become overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 cases," Evers said.

The announcement comes as hospitalizations have nearly tripled in the last month. The total number of patients in ICU beds was at 289 in September, that number jumped to 853 on Wednesday.

The field hospital will serve patients who transition out of the hospital or those who don't necessarily need hospital level care.

The Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm said multiple hospitals, in the Fox Valley, Green Bay, and Wausau, are at capacity for the number of patients they can treat.

"To be clear things will get worse before they get better and our current surge will lead to even more hospitalizations," said Palm.

Palm also noted that health care facilities are also suffering from staffing shortages as health care workers are getting sick on the job and have to quarantine after testing positive.

Wisconsin's alternative care facility is one of about 30 locations throughout the country, a milestone Palm called devastating.

"We are one of only a few states in the country to open an alternative care facility and this is not a list we wanted to be on," said Palm.

The construction of this field hospital began in April and planning for it took months and millions to construct, according to DHS.

The Alliant Energy Center in Madison was vetted to potentially become the site of an alternative care facility but Palm said right now they don't have plans to construct one.

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