The beginning of a new season has seen the coronavirus pandemic come roaring back in parts of the U.S. Now, some states are experiencing the worst surge in new cases they’ve seen since the start of the pandemic. But few places have seen worse spikes than Wisconsin. In fact, the situation has become so dire that the White House just told Wisconsin to use “maximal social distancing” to get things under control. Read on for more on Wisconsin, and if you want to know if you could have the virus, here are The Most Common COVID Symptoms You Could Have.
In a letter to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, the White House Coronavirus Task Force warned that the state had seen a”rapid worsening of the epidemic in the last week” and urged Wisconsin to “increase social distancing mitigation measures until cases decline” to the “maximal degree possible,” CNN reports.
The news comes as the state now has one of the highest rates of new COVID cases per capita in the nation (281 cases per 100,000 residents). It’s only behind North Dakota and South Dakota. Also, on Sept. 26, Wisconsin set a state record for the most new cases reported in one day with 2,817. The state has now had more than 122,000 total confirmed COVID cases since the pandemic began.
“We are in a crisis right now,” Ryan Westergaard, the Wisconsin Health Department’s chief medical officer, said during a press conference on Sept. 29. “Turning the corner on this requires that we do things dramatically different than what we’re doing. It requires all of society—all of Wisconsin—to do things differently to reduce the transmission.”
The surge of cases is also placing Wisconsin in an unprecedented healthcare crunch—the state saw its highest single-day number of COVID-related hospitalizations on Sept. 30 and current figures show that only 18 percent of hospital beds now remain available to incoming cases. A Sept. 25 letter sent from the Wisconsin Hospital Association to the governor’s office warned that “multiple hospitals” were nearing capacity, and that “additional and immediate policy steps [must] be taken to help hospitals preserve access to care during this troubling new phase of the pandemic.”
In response to the increasing surge of coronavirus cases, Evers issued a new public health emergency order on Sept. 22 that extended Wisconsin’s mask mandate through Nov. 21.
“We are facing a new and dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Wisconsin,” Evers said in a press release. “We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus. We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially—please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together.”
Wisconsin’s steps to mitigate the spread of the virus come as other states begin to roll back public health measures amid the spike in national cases. During a Sept. 28 interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, Anthony Fauci, MD, warned that states were playing with fire by allowing bars and restaurants to reopen to full capacity over the weekend. “Now’s the time actually to double down a bit” on safety protocols, he said. And for more on that, check out which state specifically Dr. Fauci says is “asking for trouble.”