The Wisconsin State Fair Park Alternate Care Facility will be in the park's Exposition Center. Wisconsin State Fair Park
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Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Wisconsin plans to open a facility at State Fair Park in West Allis to treat COVID-19 patients overflowing from hospitals, Gov. Tony Evers announced Wednesday

The facility will open as early as next week. It is not a hospital, and it will not accept walk-ins, Evers’ office said. The facility will coordinate with health systems to admit patients who need oxygen or other care to speed their recovery — but not those who are seriously ill and in need of hospital-level care.

“We hoped this day wouldn’t come, but unfortunately, Wisconsin is in a much different, more dire place today and our healthcare systems are beginning to become overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 cases,” Evers said in a statement. “This alternative care facility will take some of the pressure off our healthcare facilities while expanding the continuum of care for folks who have COVID-19.” 

The announcement came as statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations surged to 873 on Wednesday, more than triple the levels from a month ago. As the virus continues to spread, Wisconsin hospitals are also seeing critical staffing shortages – largely due to infections or exposures among staff members, Evers’ office said. 

David Wahlberg has the full story for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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“We’re urging, pleading, hoping that people will stay safer at home. We have a pandemic that is out of control in the state of Wisconsin.”

— Gov. Tony Evers in a press conference Wednesday

“It’s going to hurt tremendously. I’m going to have to lay off more staff. My unemployment reserve is gone. I don’t know what happens after that …This is going to be the final nail in the coffin for a lot of places.”

— Casey Rataczak, owner of Camino in Walker’s Point and West Allis, speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about Evers’ order limiting capacity on public gatherings

Food access trouble?

We know that when classes are virtual, many Wisconsin students and families lose access to food schools provide. And as the school year starts, some meal sites are closing. Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier Media. Click here for details.

You can also view a list of Milwaukee-area food distribution sites for students here.

Data to note

Here are the latest statewide hospitalization trends from the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

Some 72% of Wisconsites agree that masks should be required in public places, compared to 26% who disagree with requiring masks, according to a new Marquette Law School poll.That is up from August, when 69% supported a mask requirement and 29% were opposed.

The latest poll of 805 registered voters in Wisconsin was conducted Sept. 30 through Oct. 4. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

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