State and local county health officials have confirmed a record-breaking number of confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state of Wisconsin, and Polk County Public Health Officials are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19.
As of print time, Polk County has seen 743 cases, with 293 currently isolated or hospitalized. There have been three deaths.
St. Croix County has seen 2103 total confirmed cases, with 895 of those currently active. There have been 11 deaths.
Barron County has had 1,381, with 330 currently active. There have been 9 total deaths.
Area schools are keeping their eyes on case numbers to determine the fate of in-person learning and local hospitals are pleading with the public to do all they can to stop the spread of the virus. Area hospitals are seeing a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, a decrease in available beds and a decrease in available staff.
Wisconsin is divided into seven regional healthcare emergency readiness coalitions (HERC). Northwest Hospital Region 1 includes the counties of Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Polk, Barron, Rusk, Saint Croix, Dunn, Chippewa, Pierce, Pepin and Eau Claire. There are 26 hospitals in Region 1. As of Thursday, Oct. 29, almost 80% of hospital beds in 26 hospitals in HERC 1 were full.
In a statement sent by members of the Amery Hospital & Clinic board of directors, they address the impact COVID-19 has had locally and support an recent open letter sent out by the leadership of hospitals and clinics serving western Wisconsin.
“As members of the Amery Hospital & Clinic board of directors, we fully support the message below from Amery Hospital & Clinic President, Deb Rudquist, and other western Wisconsin hospital and clinic leaders. In their message, they urge community members to take precautions, such as masking, social distancing and handwashing, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Polk County, including Amery, are seeing increased hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19. In fact, during the past two weeks, Amery Hospital & Clinic has seen a significant increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 as well as impact our employees.
“We must all do our part to keep our families, our community and ourselves safe and healthy. Your commitment to this effort is appreciated.”
• Jim Leadholm, Chairman
Owner, Leadholm Insurance Agency
• Oralee Schock, Vice Chairman
Principal, Amery Intermediate School
• Ross Bullard, Treasurer
HPMG Finance & Physician Compensation, HealthPartners
• Steven Schaffer, Secretary
Owner and President, Schaffer Manufacturing
• Dylan Coe, M.D., Director
Physician, Amery Hospital & Clinic
• Rick Dado, Ph.D., Director
• Chris Petersen, Director
Principal, Clear Lake Elementary School
• Martin Richards, M.D., Director
Medical Director, HealthPartners Medical Group
• Margo Rosen, CPA, Director
Carlson Highland & Co.
• Mary Ann Scoglio, CANP, Director
Amery Hospital & Clinic
• Ann Seagren, M.D., Director
Amery Hospital & Clinic
• Theodore Wegleitner, Director
CEO, Lakeview Health System
• Patrick Sura, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Amery Hospital & Clinic
• Chuck Williamson, Director
An open letter to our elected officials
and the community:
As we continue our work to protect and care for the citizens of our communities during COVID-19, we pledge our support to the elected and appointed officials of our region in their use of proven public health strategies to fight this pandemic.
All of us who have signed this letter represent rural health care organizations and believe it is vital that we protect our resources to ensure we can meet the ongoing health care needs of those with COVID-19 and other medical conditions and needs. It is important that we have enough beds available to care for anyone who needs hospital care. it is also important that we maintain the health and well-being of our staff, who care for the people in those beds, and their families. With continued increasing community spread in Wisconsin, this becomes much harder.
As we enter the eighth month of managing COVID-19 in our communities, we know people are experiencing “caution fatigue” and may not be as diligent about taking simple steps to help reduce the spread of the virus. It gets easier to ignore the warnings and wonder if our individual behaviors make a difference in preventing infection and spread. And yet, after months of fighting this pandemic, we know what works to curb the spread and what will lessen the burden of this virus in our community.
Research and data from numerous studies around the world help us to make informed decisions about the best tools to slow the spread of COVID-19 while we work toward a vaccine and more effective treatments. These include:
1. Keeping a distance of greater than 6 feet from people outside your household;
2. Wearing masks when outside your home and around other people;
3. Avoiding any gatherings, including family events, where physical distancing and masking are not strictly being practiced;
4. Staying home when not feeling well;
5. Abiding by a 14-day isolation after contact with someone who has COVID-19;
6. Washing hands frequently – especially after touching shared surfaces, before touching your face, before eating and drinking, and upon leaving a public area.
As health care organizations, we respect scientists and public health experts. We know that this pandemic is a public health crisis and should be approached using the data-driven information that these experts provide. And so, we ask you to promote and encourage these six behaviors in our communities.
If we all work together to commit to and support accountability to these simple measures, it will help to assure the future viability of our local businesses, the education of our children, and the provision of medical care to everyone in our part of Wisconsin.
The leadership of Hospitals and Clinics serving Western Wisconsin:
Matt Brandt, CEO, Hudson Physicians
Tom Borowski, President Hudson Hospital and Clinics
David Dobosenski, CEO St. Croix Regional Medical Center
Matt Forge, CEO Osceola Medical Center
Dr. Keri Lijewski, Medical Director Vibrant Health Family Clinics
Steve Massey, President and CEO Westfields Hospital and Clinic
Alison H. Page, CEO Western Wisconsin Health
Deb Rudquist, President Amery Hospital and Clinics
Helen Strike, President River Falls Area Hospital