Wisconsin activates field hospital amid record coronavirus surge

By Joe Kelly

Courthouse News Service

October 14, 2020

MILWAUKEE (CN) — Wisconsin officials opened a field hospital at the site of its previously canceled state fair on Wednesday, turning a contingency plan into a necessary reality as the Badger State struggles to rein in one of the worst coronavirus surges in the nation.

Constructed in April with help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local subcontractors, the “alternative care facility” at the Wisconsin State Fair Park Exhibition Center just south of Milwaukee in the city of West Allis was built out of an abundance of caution early in the Covid-19 pandemic as a backup plan in case state hospitals became overwhelmed by virus patients…

According to local public health experts, Wisconsin’s current trend has been caused by fairly unsurprising factors but will only be mitigated by drastic behavioral changes before one of the state’s famously cold winters drives people indoors en masse…

Amanda Simanek, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said one can “trace this back to reopening the state prematurely” after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down an extension to Evers’ statewide lockdown order in May.

As Wisconsinites began to travel and increase social interactions over the summer under a patchwork of disparate local public health restrictions, the virus simply moved around with them, Simanek said, something she said was “in many ways very predictable” even though she and other public health experts “have been saying the same things since May.”

The professor advised that people have to be cautious and considerate in reining in their social bubbles despite being worn down, but she conceded that “I don’t see us miraculously flattening the curve in the next month” before cold weather and the holidays arrive…

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