Officials say hospital resources in the region are becoming strained, which could lead to patients having to travel further from home for health care, and some local providers are requiring employees to get vaccinated in line with government mandates.

Hospitals and health care facilities in 14 counties throughout southcentral Wisconsin are experiencing a high volume of inpatients in intensive care units, general medical floors and emergency departments. Stretched resources can lead to difficulties in receiving care close to home, according to a press release from the South Central Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition.

From July 28 to Sept. 1, the total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations increased four-fold in Wisconsin’s southcentral region. In that same time frame, there were 5.5 times the number of COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations. Many rural hospitals have no or limited ICU capability and are relying on the same limited ICU beds in larger cities, including Madison.

The high volume of inpatients includes COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, the news release said. COVID-19 infections requiring hospitalization are increasing at a similar rate to last winter’s surge. With students of all ages returning to classrooms, gatherings over the Labor Day holiday and colder weather soon driving people indoors, additional increases are expected, which could stretch resources further.

Beloit Health System President and CEO Tim McKevett said the health system is requiring vaccinations for its Illinois employees, per Gov. J.D. Pritzker’s order.

“We are evaluating the Biden administration’s executive order and its implications,” McKevett said. “If it’s mandated, we will require them. Currently we are not requiring vaccinations for Wisconsin-based employees.”

President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order requiring health care workers to get vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Mercyhealth announced it will charge a fee to any employee who doesn’t get vaccinated. Its announcement Friday referenced a fee ranging from $60 to $265 a month depending on employee pay.

At this time, a determination has not been made regarding requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees at Edgerton Hospital and Health Services as it waits for further direction from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It expects to have an answer for employees within two weeks, according to marketing manager Sunny Bowditch.

There were 40 newly reported cases of COVID-19 in Janesville in the past week, according to municipal data released Monday. There were 32 new cases in Beloit, seven in Clinton, nine in Edgerton, four in Evansville, three in Milton and 12 in the remainder of the county.

There were 17,218 people in Rock County who recovered from COVID-19 and 528 active cases. There were 21 people hospitalized in the county as of Thursday, Sept. 9.

In Rock County, 61.7% of eligible people have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Monday, the average new cases per day in Wisconsin for the past seven days has been 1,482. The seven-day average of deaths per day in the state has been 13, and the seven day average state positivity rate was 7.7%.

As of Sept. 7, the latest data available, there were 987 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Wisconsin, a number which is growing since it was 79 on July 11.

There were 3,050,518 people in Wisconsin who have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series, or 51.4% of the population, according to state data.


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