Advocate Aurora Health discusses sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, new vaccine

MILWAUKEE, WI (CBS 58) – Clinical leaders with Advocate Aurora Health discussed the sharp rise in cases in Wisconsin and Illinois Monday, Nov. 16.

During the meeting, officials said they’ve learned a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. They discussed how they’re preparing for the holidays, which they fear could be super-spreader events if people don’t make virtual plans or keep things to a really small gathering.

“The end of this pandemic is in sight,” said Dr. Robert Citrongber, executive medical director of infectious disease and prevention. “As I mentioned, we need to get through this winter.”

Dr. Citronberg says the latest vaccine news may be the light we’ve all been waiting for, but while the vaccine isn’t yet available, it’s important to still follow protocols.

They say they currently have 489 in-patients with COVID-19 in their Wisconsin campuses.

“That puts immense pressure on our in-patient care teams,” says Dr. Jeff Bahr, chief Aurora Medical Group officer. “Such that we’ve developed and updated our surge plan and response to the surge.”

Officials say they currently have an adequate amount of PPE and ventilators. Their biggest challenge has been staffing. One solution has been requesting travel nurses.

“We’ve already had some of those requests filled, but we also know we’re competing with the rest of our region and country,” says Mary Beth Kingston, chief nursing officer.

They says they’ve also reached out to students and volunteers to help with assignments like screening.

They urge the public to remain patient.

“There’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in that tunnel,” says Citronberg. “We know that masking works. We know that social distancing works. Hold it together through the winter with the promise that the spring is going to be much brighter.”

Officials say there still hasn’t been much direction on distribution for states or on a national level.

Advocate Aurora Health says they have a vaccine steering committee that will be looking for additional guidance once the vaccine is made available.

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