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Surge in coronavirus cases puts strain on Wisconsin hospitals

Soaring COVID-19 cases overwhelm Wisconsin hospitals
Soaring coronavirus cases overwhelm Wisconsin hospitals 02:36

Health experts are warning the months ahead will be some of the hardest of the coronavirus pandemic. It comes as the U.S. climbs towards a third peak, and nowhere is it more true than in Wisconsin, which has emerged as the country's hot spot. The state is setting records for new cases, hospital admissions and deaths.

At UW Hospital in Madison, COVID-19 hospitalizations have almost doubled since the start of October. Nurse Katie Lanoway said it happened almost overnight.

"I'm really frustrated. It is scary because you don't want to take that home to people you care about," Lanoway told CBS News. "We really need help here in the hospital from people outside, to start wearing the mask and staying away from people."

One COVID-19 unit used to be limited to one hallway, which has about 10 patient rooms, and now they've had to expand to three hallways because of the surge.

Dr. Jeff Pothoff, UW Health's chief quality officer, works on a medivac team that has airlifted several coronavirus patients. "They thought they were going to be OK, and then all of a sudden, they end up here. There's some regret," Pothoff said. "At that point, it's too late. There isn't a do-over."

With COVID-19 cases now surging across the nation, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, warned Americans to brace themselves. "We have two or three very hard months ahead of us," said Gottlieb. "I think this is probably going to be the hardest phase of this pandemic."

A new peak is hitting one Utah health system especially hard. Over the weekend, ICU beds reached over 100% capacity.

"This is as serious as it gets. We have had to turn away transfers, people in other states," said Dr. Russell Vinik, chief of medical operations at the University of Utah Health.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is facing a second wave, with more than 500 new cases a day. "We are increasingly seeing large gatherings of unmasked young people," said Lightfoot. "Folks, that has to stop."

But there is some encouraging news at New York City schools. Of the more than 16,000 tests for the coronavirus, just 28 came back positive: 20 staff members and eight students.

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