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Brown County health leaders ‘alarmed’ by number of positive COVID-19 cases

Nearly 8,000 positive cases of the virus have been reported with 61 deaths.
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 5:39 PM CDT
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - For the first time in months, Brown County Public Health gives an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and what is happening locally.

“We are alarmed by the rising number of cases,” said Anna Destree, Brown County Public Health Officer.

“This is serious. It’s putting stress on the health care systems,” said Chris Woleske, Bellin Health President and CEO.

As of Friday, the four health care systems report a total of 71 patients hospitalized with the virus shattering the previous record set in late spring with 47 patients hospitalized at one time.

“Our emergency department has experienced unprecedented surges of patients last Friday and more recently this week when the need was so great that we had to hold patients on gurneys in the hallways to provide necessary care to them," said Woleske.

Woleske adds that three-quarters of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds at Bellin Hospital and two-thirds of Medical Unit beds are filled by patients battling COVID-19. Additionally, approximately 150 employees are out on quarantine largely because of community exposure.

“We are not in the position where I’d say the virus is overwhelming us, but we are definitely on the verge if we can’t change local behavior,” Dr. Ashok Rai, Prevea Health President and CEO.

That is achieved by practicing the same guidelines that have been repeated since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Make sure to wear your masks when you’re out in public, social distance, and wash your hands,” said Troy Streckenbach, Brown County Executive.

“We know among some in the public there is skepticism, but you can no longer ignore the numbers," said Destree. "We need people to recommit to doing the right thing to stop the spread.”

“We’re tired of it, too,” said Woleske. “We all want to go back to how it was, but the reality is we can’t do it just yet.”

Destree says there has been mixed compliance with guidelines in the community. Many businesses and public buildings are taking them seriously, but more people choose not to follow them at private events and gatherings.

Although there are systems in place allowing for citations to be given to people who repeatedly ignore those guidelines, Destree emphasizes Brown County Public Health is focused on education and guidance with most businesses wanted to work with health officials. So far, no citations have been given.

“We can reverse this trend. I absolutely believe that,” said Woleski.

“If we do our part, we can win this,” said Streckenbach.

Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.

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