As coronavirus cases increase statewide, Milwaukee health leaders prepare for patient surge

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee County leaders say hospitalizations have gone up in the area, but right now, the greater risks are in other parts of the state. 

However, they're remaining vigilant, and local hospitals are staying prepared for a surge in patients.

Coronavirus deaths in Milwaukee County have stayed consistent, but cases have increased.

Officials are seeing a large growth in 25-to-39 year olds, and among white communities.

The latest numbers also show hot spots in Milwaukee, and surrounding cities, within the last week.

“And this includes much of the east side, much of the central part of the city of Milwaukee into the southern part of the city of Milwaukee, and many of the southern and western suburbs," Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, said.

County leaders added that hospitalizations are at their highest in four months.

The number more than doubled, from 77 to 165, over the last three weeks.

But the county’s overall transmission rate continues to drop.

“We’re lucky in Milwaukee County that we have multiple health systems and several large hospitals," Dr. Ben Weston, director of Medical Services for the Office of Emergency Management, said.

He added that hospital capacity plans, created in the spring, are still in place including the alternative care facility at State Fair Park.

“Right now, in the state of Wisconsin, we are in a bad place," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

He explained the dangerous spikes in northeastern and central Wisconsin led to the opening of the alternative site.

As for his city, the numbers may be rising, but efforts to suppress the virus are consistent.

“I’m grateful that our mitigation efforts here locally have helped keep our numbers fairly steady. And I say that without any arrogance or overconfidence because I know how quickly this could change," he added.

Rausch was happy to report that testing rose in September, after a drop off over the summer.

He said this is possibly due to end-of-summer activities and schools reopening.

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