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COVID-19 cases continue to surge in county, state

Hospitals seeing increase in inpatient numbers, Gov. Evers orders new restrictions on business places

With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to surge in the region, local health officials are urging people to do their part and take precautions to reduce their chances of catching the virus.

“We have seen an increase of inpatients and an increased testing rate of positives is up from a couple months ago. In the past few weeks it has been a very dramatic change in volume,” said Dale Hustedt, CEO of Aspirus Medford Hospital.

He urges people to take basic safety precautions such as continuing to wear a mask when indoors, staying six feet or more from other people, avoiding large groups and washing your hands frequently.

Hustedt admitted that it gets tiresome to have to wear masks and take other safety precautions. That said, Hustedt noted it was especially important for people to take safety precautions. “Given what is happening, this is not the time to relax,” he said.

Hustedt said the hospital has seen an increase in the number of patients with a large increase in recent weeks as the price “We are still in good shape, but it will be a community effort to have the room to take care of everyone we will need to,” Hustedt said.

According to Hustedt, as a critical access hospital, Aspirus Medford has 15 inpatient beds, with five of those designated for labor and delivery. He said there are five others that are med/surgery recovery and two ICU beds. Over the past year he said the average daily census has been seven patients. In recent weeks that average daily count has been around 15 patients.

He explained that since the cases began surging in the region, they have stepped up the response plans. A major part of this is having weekly communication be- tween the hospitals in the Aspirus system to ensure that patients are in the locations they need to be to get the care they need.

Hustedt said that patients from this area who need a higher level of care than Medford can provide are transferred to hospitals such as Aspirus Wausau where they have a dedicated COVID-19 unit. At the same time, patients who are in their recovery or who have other conditions may be transferred here to Medford or elsewhere. The goal, he said is to make sure patients are where they need to be in order to get the level of care they need.

A major difference between now and last spring, Hustedt noted, is that last spring most facilities canceled things like elective surgery and non-emergency procedures. As healthcare workers and officials have had more experience with COVID-19 they again are allowing these procedures and he does not anticipate that changing.

Meanwhile the number of COVID-19 cases in the community continues to climb with the state Department of Health Services reporting 243 positive cases recorded in the county, this is up more than 40 cases from last week.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue Emergency Order #3 limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of a room or building’s total occupancy.

This directive is effective at 8 a.m. on Oct. 8, and will remain in effect until Nov. 6, and applies to any gatherings at locations that are open to the public such as stores, restaurants, and other businesses that allow public entry, as well as spaces with ticketed events.

“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” said Gov. Evers. “We are continuing to experience a surge in cases and many of our hospitals are overwhelmed, and I believe limiting indoor public gatherings will help slow the spread of this virus. Folks, we need your help and we need all Wisconsinites to work together during this diffi cult time. The sooner we get control of this virus, the sooner our economy, communities, and state can bounce back.” On Tuesday, the governor also announced an additional $100 million in support for Wisconsin’s small businesses, including lodging, event venues, and others in the tourism industry, who are struggling in the wake of the pandemic without additional federal supports.

“The unfortunate reality is this: the disease activity level of COVID-19 in Wisconsin is so high that going to a gathering puts you at very high risk of exposure,” said DHS Secretary-designee Palm. “We know gatherings are a key way this virus spreads, so we must act to limit indoor gatherings to stop the spread, reduce illness, and save lives.”

Locally, Taylor County Public Health officials are alerting people who visited Medford’s Verizon store between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on September 30 and Oct. 1 and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Oct. 2.

The Taylor County Health Department is encouraging anyone who was at this place of business to monitor for symptoms through October 16. Common COVID-19 symptoms include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and other symptoms that can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 information page.

On Monday, the Medford Area Sehool District announced that about 20 students at Medford Area Middle School were being quarantined due to possible exposure.

Last week, Rib Lake School District went virtual for the high school and middle school. School officials are anticipating that they will be able to return to in-person instruction as scheduled next week.

Taylor County

254 — Number of positive cases: 3124— Number of people with negative results 4— Number of cases who have died As of 10/7/2020 SOURCE: WWW.DHS.WISCONSIN.GOV/COVID-19