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A swab is placed into a bag as members of the Wisconsin National Guard help with COVID-19 testing at Krueger Park in Beloit in May.

The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Rock County hit 27 on Tuesday, matching the county’s peak last seen May 26.

Representatives from Janesville’s two hospitals said Tuesday the hospitals still had capacity for new patients, although the number of patients is growing.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased in every region of the state this week, according to the Wisconsin Hospitals Association.

“Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center has capacity, and we continue to monitor our volume on a daily basis,” said Barb Bortner, vice president of Mercyhealth System in an email to The Gazette.

Mercyhealth is seeing more people in the hospital than usual but can accept new COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients at this time, Bortner said.

The situation is similar at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Janesville.

St. Mary’s is close to its normal inpatient capacity and has not activated its surge plan, said Erica Mathis, spokeswoman for the health system, in an email to The Gazette.

St. Mary’s has seen a “large increase” of hospitalizations in the last week for patients with various conditions, including COVID-19, Mathis said.

“We are asking the public to please help keep our Rock County hospitals from needing to activate their surge plans,” Mathis said. “If we all work together by continuing to wear masks, practice good hand hygiene, socially distance and seek medical care when needed, we can once again ‘flatten the curve.’”

Hospitals and clinics are safe to visit, and St. Mary’s officials urge people to keep up on routine care, Mathis said.

There are 704 active and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rock County, down 32 from Monday, according to data from the Rock County Public Health Department.

The number of new cases reported Tuesday was 20, bringing the county’s all-time total to 2,880. Of all confirmed cases in the county, 7% have been hospitalized.

Thirty-three Rock County residents have died from the disease.

Cases and hospitalizations have climbed since the beginning of September, prompting Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday to issue a health order limiting public gatherings to 25% of a building’s capacity with exceptions for businesses such as grocery stores.

Local enforcement of Evers’ order will be similar to that of the statewide mask order, said Kelsey Cordova, spokeswoman for the county health department, in an email to The Gazette.

Enforcement will begin with education from local health officials. If necessary, law enforcement can issue citations, Cordova said.

The health department will be in touch with local businesses and the Reopen Rock Task Force to make sure businesses understand the order and how it affects their operations, Cordova said.

“This order is an attack on the virus, not businesses,” Cordova said. “We all want to see our economy thrive and our local businesses to be successful. All along we’ve needed every person to take this seriously and to do their part to slow the spread and keep our economy open.”

The county will update its reopening plan to reflect the new statewide order, Cordova said.

Local health officials continue to consider all information and data to evaluate the need for local health orders, Cordova said.

Counties could issue their own health orders only if they match or are stricter than the state’s orders.

“We are seeing widespread community transmission of this coronavirus in our community,” Cordova said. “We’re calling on each and every Rock County community member to do their part: wear a mask and limit your contact with people you don’t live with.”

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