How close are Madison-area hospitals to reaching capacity?

Covid, ICU units filling up fast at delta variant spreads

MADISON, Wis. — Dane County hospitals are currently experiencing their steepest rise in COVID patients since last October.

Today, an estimated 2,000 Wisconsinites will find out they have COVID-19, raising the 7-day average to more than 1,300. The state hasn’t recorded a number that high since January.

Most of the people who are vaccinated will experience mild to no symptoms. Those who aren’t will become 29 times more likely to need hospitalization, according to a new study from the CDC.

“We know the stress that puts on our team,” explained Kyle Nondorf, President of SSM St. Mary’s Hospital.

But how close are Madison-area hospitals to reaching capacity?

“In May and June, we were consistently treating less than five COVID patients a day,” Nondorf added. “Right now, we’re seeing between 15 and 20 on a daily basis.”

Both SSM and UW Hospital staff say they currently have enough space for coronavirus patients, but they fear that could change if the number of cases, inevitably coupled with hospitalizations, keeps climbing.

UW Hospital has a ‘special pathogens unit,’ entirely devoted to COVID. Right now, doctors like Jeff Pothof are treating four to five times the number of coronavirus patients compared to May. They say this latest surge is fueled by the delta variant and vaccine hesitancy.

“If you’re not vaccinated, please, please get vaccinated,” bargained Pothof. “That’s the most important thing you can do to keep yourself healthy.”

With 92% of the state’s ICU beds currently in use as of last Wednesday, doctors are pleading with people to help themselves… before it’s too late.

“We don’t want you to get into a situation where someone you love needs a hospital bed and can’t find one,” said Dr. Pothof.

RELATED: COVID vaccines are safe and effective. Click here to learn more and schedule your first shot today.