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ICU beds are filling up with mostly unvaccinated patients as the North Central Region averages 154 new COVID-19 cases a day

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Wisconsin DHS

Wisconsin is averaging roughly 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths per day as of Thursday afternoon.

With the increase in cases, comes an increase in hospitalizations.

“We know that as the community prevalence increases about two weeks later, 10 to 14 days, is when we actually see an increase then in the hospitalizations. So we continue to monitor that very closely,” said Jeff Wicklander, Apsirus Health Senior Vice President and Aspirus Wausau Hospital President.

All counties in our region are experiencing high or very high COVID-19 transmission right now.

There’s a couple of key differences Aspirus has notice between this surge and the one last fall.

With the last surge, of the people hospitalized with COVID-19, roughly 25% would end in the ICU.

“What we’re seeing with this surge is about 50% of the patients that get admitted to the hospital are in the intensive care unit," Wicklander said.

Wicklander says it’s a younger population in the hospitals this time around, with a 27-year-old currently the youngest person hospitalized with COVID in the Aspirus system. The oldest is 87.

The COVID-19 vaccine is the biggest factor in keeping people out of the hospital.

“The vast majority of those that are admitted to the hospital today, with this surge, are unvaccinated,” said Wicklander.

While many counties in the Northwood are closing in on 60% of the population getting at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, fewer than half the people living in Forest, Langlade, and Lincoln Counties have gotten a dose.

Taylor County has the lowest vaccination rate in the state with just 30% of its population with a single dose.

COVID cases have spiked there in the last month with more than 250 new cases since August 9th. 161 people are currently in isolation with active cases and nine people are hospitalized.

For comparison, Oneida County, which has 59% of residents with at least one dose, had 152 new COVID cases in the last month. 48 cases are active and five people are hospitalized.

“What we’re seeing with this Delta surge is right now, hospitalizations are related to the population who’s unvaccinated,” said Wicklander.

As the local hospitals fill up, another concern on Wicklander’s mind is the upcoming flu season.

Last flu season was nearly non-existent in Wisconsin. Wicklander said it’s unlikely to be the same this year.

“Of course, we’re hoping for it, I don’t think that’s what we’ll see as we don’t have other restrictions of people staying at home, masking, social distancing,” he said.

Wicklander urges people to get the flu shot as well as the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already.

You can use vaccine.gov to find an appointment.

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