FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

COVID-19 putting strain on local hospitals, urge people to get vaccinated


GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — The President and CEO of ThedaCare had an urgent warning on Tuesday: get vaccinated.

Dr. Imran Andrabi said it is a worst-case scenario. As of Tuesday morning, the hospital only had two ICU beds available, as the Delta variant continues to race around northeast Wisconsin. Those beds were not just for COVID patients, it is for anyone in the hospital.

“Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. A lot of people have taken the vaccine and a lot of people have not taken the vaccine,” Andrabi said.

It is the concern over those who are not vaccinated that are stretching resources thin at health care centers across the state, including Thedacare.

The latest variant is also presenting new challenges, he says, compared to one year ago.

“I think we are worse off this time around,” Dr. Andrabi said. “We are dealing with a completely different virus than what we had a year ago. This is not the same virus.”

The Delta variant is also bringing younger people to the hospital. ThedaCare said most of its COVID-19 patients are under the age of 50. Nationwide, there has been a 200% increase of kids under the age of 12 being admitted to the hospital for COVID — and that’s only since June.

The biggest problem: getting people to get the shot.

“When we started surging a little bit again we did see some people get off the fence and start to get the vaccine. But I wouldn’t say we have seen a huge upsurge in vaccine uptake,” said Carol Bess, Infection Prevention Coordinator for Bellin Health.

Dr. Andrabi said more than 3/4 of the people in the hospital for COVID-19 are not vaccinated. He is urging the community to get it done, if they are eligible to do so.

“The hospital stays are longer, and longer, and longer. And so that means they are still in the hospital, still needing a bed, still needing staff to take care of them for a long period of time,” said Dr. Andrabi.

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