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The coronavirus currently spreads to more than a dozen states, including Wisconsin. On Wednesday alone, there were more than 3,000 new infections and more than two dozen deaths. The state averaged 2,840 new cases a day, an increase of 22% from the average two weeks ago.
A total of 158,578 people in Wisconsin tested positive for the virus and 1,536 people died.
Wisconsin Lt. Col. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, believes there are a number of factors driving the jump in the number of cases.
“One is the change in temperature. We had a very generous summer … with the weather here in Wisconsin, which doesn’t always happen,” he said in an interview with All things considered. “And now that the temperatures are starting to drop, the people who used to gather outside, enjoy the outdoors, are now doing it inside. And then you have the football season. … [Football fans aren’t] go to the games, but people still gather and enjoy in spaces that are not very safe. “
Patients flood the hospitals in the state. To meet that demand, the state opened a pop-up hospital at the Wisconsin State Fair near Milwaukee.
Last week, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has ordered the Wisconsin Department of Health to issue an emergency order limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of total room or building occupancy. In response, a judge suspended the order on Wednesday, after the plaintiff said it would lead to “a devastating loss of customers, sales and revenue”.
Barnes says much of the dispute is political and that Republicans are “making it increasingly difficult.” [Evers’] administration. “
“Unfortunately, it seems that Republicans in the legislature would rather fight us than fight the virus,” Barnes said. “That’s the most frustrating part of it.”
Here are excerpts from an interview in which Barnes discusses how the state plans to deal with the trouble in the cases.
Part of the fight against proliferation is knowing where it is spreading. Do you have enough tests for this?
At the moment, this is not mandatory testing. We are concerned to ensure that our hospital system is not exceeded. We were pretty solid with the availability of tests, but now we are opening up alternative care … in the event that the area north of Milwaukee is congested and the hospitals are overcrowded so that COVID patients can be separated and treated separately from other people in the hospital.
Apart from being overcrowded, hospitals sound like an overloaded contact tracking system. We talked to infectious disease expert from Green Bay a few days ago, who said that the state was just calling people who were positive and saying, “Please contact all your contacts yourself.” Do you make sense that the Wisconsin contact tracking system does not have the capacity to meet current needs?
I think we need to work on hiring more contact tags than we are. And this is one of the things that will be in constant need. When things slowed down during the summer months or relatively slowed down, the need was not so great. But now that we see an increase in cases, it is more important for us to reach out, to hire more. But these efforts are certainly underway to introduce more contact tags.
You say that the hospitals are already overcrowded. And in Wisconsin, the positive test rate is currently rising. That’s 20%. Are you ready for what lies ahead?
Well, we all need to be prepared for what lies ahead. We are entering the season of colds and flu. So, being on top of … jumping into the hearths of COVID-19 is something that should affect everyone. … Hospitals are on the brink. We did not have to accommodate anyone in this alternative facility [yet]. That is why it is in place so that we can be prepared in case this happens.
Peter Granitz, Christopher Intaliata and Ian Johnson produced and edited the audio interview. Christiana Silva adapted it for the network.