North-central US grapples with spike in COVID-19 cases

FILE - In this May 11, 2020 photo, a member of the Wisconsin National Guard tests a person for COVID-19 in a Milwaukee parking lot.

FILE – In this May 11, 2020 photo, a member of the Wisconsin National Guard tests a person for COVID-19 in a Milwaukee parking lot.


The coronavirus has taken over the north-central region of the United States. Hospitals in Wisconsin and South Dakota are running out of space and the NFL postponed a game because of an outbreak that has affected the Tennessee Titans.

As in other states, Wisconsin health authorities had warned since the pandemic began that COVID-19 patients could overwhelm hospitals. That is already happening in some facilities as experts fear a second wave of infections in the United States.

A record number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Wisconsin. Of the 737 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, 205 were in intensive care units, largely due to spikes in cases in the north of the state.

Officials at ThedaCare, a seven-hospital community health system, said they have exceeded the capacity of the COVID-19 unit at their medical center in Appleton, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Milwaukee. They began transferring patients to other hospitals located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) away.

Wisconsin health officials reported 2,319 new cases, for a total of 122,274.

In North Dakota, hospitals are expanding space amid employee concerns about capacity. About 678 COVID-19 infections have been diagnosed per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks, leading the country in new cases per capita, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

A new hospital unit was opened in the capital Bismarck to add 14 beds, almost half of which would be for intensive care patients. The space is not exclusive to care for patients with coronavirus, but it could be used for them if necessary.

Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 21,846 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in North Dakota, with 247 deaths. There are currently 89 hospitalized.

Meanwhile, the NFL decided to postpone the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans after three Titans players and five team members tested positive for COVID-19. The franchise has closed its facilities until at least Friday and they will not be able to train together until Saturday at the earliest.

The United States is averaging more than 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day. Although it is a figure much lower than the 70,000 it recorded during the summer, it is still disturbing. The nation’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 200,000 this week, and is the highest in the world.


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