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Respiratory illnesses leading to increase patient load and longer wait times for Aspirus and hospitals nationwide


RSV, COVID-19, and influenza cases are all rising in Wisconsin.

In its weekly Influenza-like activity report, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services says flu and RSV cases are at moderate levels in the North Central Region.

Most of the rest of the state is in the high level with confirmed flu cases doubling in recent weeks and RSV activity staying steady but high.

Statewide, DHS was reporting an average of around 700 new COVID-19 cases a day before Thanksgiving.

Now, it’s closer to 900 cases a day.

The increase in cases and pressure on our hospital systems has also caused the COVID community levels in most Northwoods counties to move up to the medium level.

Aspirus says all of this is driving increased traffic and longer wait times across emergency departments, inpatient and outpatient settings at Aspirus and hospitals nationwide.

“It appears we’re going to be in for a very tricky season. This winter season as we go through influenza which we haven’t seen for the last couple years. So be very cognizant of that,” said Jeff Wicklander is the Aspirus SVP and President of the Aspirus Central Region.

Some of Aspirus’ walk-in clinics are reporting that 70 percent of patients are currently presenting with symptoms of respiratory illness.

The increase in patient load combined with staffing struggles in our healthcare system could mean you’re waiting a while for care, no matter what brings you to the hospital or clinic.

“It’s really dependent on what kind of patient bed that we need as well as the staff to care for it, but our staffing is very tight. At many times across the system, we are at capacity,” said Wicklander.

Wicklander says people can help by getting their COVID and Flu vaccinations, washing their hands, and isolate from other if you’re not feeling well.

COVID and Flu vaccines can limit your chances of severe illness.

Just 30% of Wisconsin residents have gotten their flu vaccine this year.

And while more than 60% of Wisconsinites have completely the primary series for the COVID vaccine, only 15% have gotten the updated COVID-19 booster.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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