COVID-19 Hospitalizations Drop In Wisconsin

Local Health Officials Say Promising Trend Could Change Without Continued Precautions

A nurse puts on protective gear
Registered nurse Kevin Hoover puts on protective gear as he prepares to check on a COVID-19 patient Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at Kearny County Hospital in Lakin, Kan. The rural 24-bed hospital is currently treating five patients for COVID-19 while the county has seen a spike in cases due to clusters in nearby meatpacking plants. Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

Wisconsin hospitals concerned about being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients early in the pandemic saw their lowest number of newly admitted patients since early April. On Tuesday there were 275 people hospitalized with the coronavirus. On April 4 there were 279. For most of April and May the number of newly hospitalized patients was well above that.

The dip in patients is driven by fewer people needing to be hospitalized in the last two weeks. On average, 13 percent of people sickened by the coronavirus need to be admitted for hospital care. On Tuesday, there were 100 people with COVID-19 in intensive care around the state, just over a third of all coronavirus patients. And 319 patients are on ventilators to help them breathe, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association data.

A drug which appears to reduce the death rate of critically ill patients on ventilators showed promising initial results in a clinical trial by researchers in the United Kingdom. Dexamethasone is a commonly used steroid. Unpublished results from the study showed it reduced death rates by 35 percent for those on ventilators and 20 percent for those on supplemental oxygen.

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“It’s inexpensive and readily available. It can be used in both oral and intravenous form. So, this is potentially good news on the treatment front,” said Medical College of Wisconsin CEO and President Dr. John Raymond during an online briefing with Milwaukee business leaders Tuesday.

Local health officials say the drop in severe cases of the coronavirus is good news, but warn the pandemic is not over.

“Though we are seeing promising trends in hospitalizations and … percent positive cases counts, the virus is certainly not gone and will likely increase at some point in the future as we are seeing in most states throughout the country,” said Dr. Ben Weston, during the online press briefing. Weston is director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

New cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations have surged in the southern and western parts of the United States as states reopen and large demonstrations against police violence take place.

There’s also summer travel, making the interstate a route of transmission for the coronavirus.

Raymond said there’s new evidence that COVID-19 is spreading from community to community as people leave home looking for leisure.

“So as we see travel from Chicago and Iowa up to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, those are trends we’re going to have to pay attention to very carefully,” he said.