'We've let down our guard': Wisconsin reports new record number of COVID-19 deaths, cases

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58/AP) -- On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Wisconsin reported a record high number of deaths from COVID-19 and a record high number of new COVID-19 cases.

Data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or DHS, shows 3,279 new positive cases were added Tuesday, and 34 more people have died from the virus. Over the weekend, the state hit another grim milestone, with COVID-19 cases topping 150,000. 

During a briefing Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers and DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm painted a grim picture of the state. Evers was asked why the virus conditions are worse in Wisconsin than during the summer months. 

He responded: "What's different now than before is that we've let down our guard ... People are tired of the pandemic, and they're tired of wearing masks, and I think there's been some let-down over the summer."

They said the rising case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths are prompting state officials to open the Alternate Care Facility, or ACF, at State Fair Park on Wednesday.

"Our current surge in cases will lead to more hospitalizations, which is why we must be prepared. As the governor said, we hope we do not need this overflow capacity," Palm said.

The 530-bed facility will be able to accept 50 patients on its first day. State health officials said they will adjust the capacity as needed. Palm said the patients will have already tested positive for COVID-19 and will have a lower acuity.

Evers said the ACF is not a hospital, so it will not accept walk in patients.

Palm encouraged everyone to continue to take steps to help curb the spread of the virus.

"Stay home as much as you can. If you can work from home, please do. Limit your errands to the essentials as much as you can. Yes, get your groceries and go to the pharmacy, but please cancel the dinner parties and the happy hours," Palm said.

DHS data shows Chippewa and Douglas Counties reported COVID deaths for the first time Tuesday.

To date, more than 155,000 Wisconsinites have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gov. Tony Evers urged people to stay home, wear masks when they go outside, limit exposure to others and maintain a social distance.

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