The coronavirus death rate from Wisconsin has been increasing, though in single digits as of Thursday morning. The total cases remained in mid-triple digits at that time.
Still, the pace of growth of COVID-19 in Wisconsin – case numbers doubling every three days over the last week and a half – brings a dangerous possibility of scarcity of lifesaving resources in the near future, according to Medical College of Wisconsin CEO Dr. John Raymond.
“The Wisconsin Health Care Association estimates that we have about 11,000-12,000 hospital beds here in Wisconsin, and anywhere from one-third to 40 percent of those are open every day,” he said on WTMJ’s “Wisconsin’s Morning News.”
“Simply taking the numbers and doubling them (every three days) and projecting out into the future…it looks like we will have a crisis here within three to four weeks.”
The pace of growth over the last 10 days, according to Dr. Raymond, is “similar to the rates that have been seen in New York City which is now facing a crisis with the overwhelming number of cases that have surged and strained their health care system.”
An even more overwhelming though similar situation happened in Italy, where reports came across of doctors and medical systems having to choose which patients would receive medical care and which would die, because of a scarcity of medical resources to take care of all the patients.
He says that it is on the general public to maintain social distancing, and for government and business communities to assist in quickly bringing testing and protective resources, to give Wisconsin a chance at stemming that tide.
“Every individual and every organization should be mindful about limiting the number of physical interactions we have that aren’t essential. When we leave home, we should protect our personal space bubble of about six feet. That doesn’t mean that you can’t walk past someone on the street. What it means is the virus is more likely to spread if you are within someone’s personal space bubble,” Dr. Raymond said.
“Frequent hand washing and mindfulness about pulmonary hygiene, which means if you have a cough or sneeze, do it into the crook of your elbow or into a tissue. By all means, what we’re trying to do is get on top of this virus and make sure we don’t overwhelm the capacity of our health system.”
Dr. Raymond added that Wisconsin simply does not have enough tests available for those who need it, and testing is necessary to get the pandemic under control.
“All of our health care systems in the region and health departments are doing what they can to ramp up capacity, but in order to really get on top of this, we need to be able to test everyone the minute they have a suspected exposure or systems. That simply isn’t possible right now.”
Dr. Raymond added that the business and government sectors must “be laser focused” on two particular strategies to avoid such a health care crisis.
“One: Bringing that testing capacity to the front lines so that anyone who wants to have a test or needs to have a test can have it done with a rapid turnaround time. That’s really what we need to do to get on top of this pandemic,” he said.
“The second thing I would ask public policy officials to do is bring personal protective equipment to the front lines. Our doctors and other health care providers are at significant risk of being in a situation where they are going to have to take care of sick patients without appropriate protection.”