FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2021
Contact:
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

Gov. Evers and DHS Announce FEMA Support for Wisconsin Hospitals

FEMA support will provide critical care to Wisconsinites in the Green Bay area

Governor Tony Evers and the Department of Health Services (DHS) today announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sending a 20-person team from the U.S. Navy to support Bellin Health’s COVID-19 response in the Green Bay area. This assistance is critical for supporting hospitals and health care systems that are at or nearly at capacity. FEMA’s support was secured in collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs and Wisconsin Emergency Management.

“I asked for additional federal assistance to support our state’s continued response to the pandemic, and I am grateful for FEMA’s efforts to help our health care workers with the high volume of patients due to COVID-19 and other health conditions,” said Governor Evers. “I urge every Wisconsinite to take immediate action and get the COVID-19 vaccine and your booster dose if you haven’t received it already—this is critically important for mitigating surges in hospitalizations and deaths across our state. Our hospitals and health care systems are relying on us to do our part to get the COVID-19 vaccine and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Support from the FEMA teams will be critical as COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin are surging. The latest seven-day average of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is 3,315, nearly double the number two months ago. As of December 17, there are 1,664 Wisconsinites hospitalized with COVID-19 and 423 of them are in the intensive care unit. That is an increase of 30 in one week, and 258 since December 1.

“Our health care systems continue to be under tremendous pressure. Across Wisconsin, 96 percent of intensive care beds and 98 percent of intermediate care beds are currently in use,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “The FEMA team will be essential to supporting our health care system in Northeastern Wisconsin. We continue to be in conversations with our federal partners to help other hospitals and health care systems in our state that are at or over capacity. This support is essential to ensuring Wisconsinites have access to this critical care.”

“While we are incredibly grateful to be receiving federal assistance, we know that this assistance is temporary,” said Chris Woleske, President and CEO of Bellin Health. “As a result, we are asking the community to work with us to stop the spread of COVID-19 by masking and getting vaccinated to ensure our hospitals and health systems can continue to provide high-quality care for all who need it.”

Yesterday, DHS issued a public health advisory calling on all Wisconsinites to take urgent action to prevent additional hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19. The highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Wisconsin and is anticipated to cause a rapid increase in disease activity in the coming weeks. There is a serious risk that continued, increased numbers of COVID-19 cases will overwhelm an already strained health care system, leading to dangerous situations where patients experiencing medical emergencies may not be able to receive immediate, adequate, life-saving attention and care due to lack of hospital capacity.

To slow the spread of the Omicron variant, DHS is urging all Wisconsinites to take the following actions immediately:

  • Get vaccinated against COVID-19, including a booster dose as soon as you are eligible.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask in indoor spaces when others are present who do not live with you.
  • Celebrate safely over the holidays by keeping gatherings small, getting tested before visiting others, and staying home if you have any symptoms.

Anyone with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested, regardless of their vaccination status. If you are exposed to COVID-19, get tested 5-7 days after exposure. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, stay home while you are waiting for your results. Trusted testing partners include local health departments, community testing sites, pharmacies, and health care providers. At-home COVID-19 tests can also be used before gathering with family and friends. DHS currently provides free at-home collection kits, a type of at-home test, for all Wisconsinites.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine provider in your community, visit Vaccines.gov, or call 211 or 877-947-2211. For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. You can also follow @DHSWI on Facebook, Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram for more information on COVID-19.