If the state didn’t take the aggressive action of the “safer at home” order issued Tuesday, models show Wisconsin would likely have 22,000 cases of COVID-19, including 440 to 1,500 deaths, by April 8, according to state health officials.
“Thousands of Wisconsinites would need hospitalization, and we would exceed our current hospital-bed capacity,” Department of Health Services Secretary-designate Andrea Palm said.
Meanwhile, UW Health, SSM Health and UnityPoint Health-Meriter are each treating COVID-19 patients, the hospitals said Tuesday. As recently as Friday, only Meriter said it had treated a hospitalized COVID-19 patient and that person had been discharged.
Palm said everyone should try to limit their day-to-day contact to no more than five people.
Even if residents follow the “safer at home” order and avoid others as much as possible, cases of COVID-19 will likely keep going up for the next few weeks, said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, a medical officer for the state health department. But then there could be a leveling off, which would be a sign that the strict measures worked, he said.
“If we do them well, they’re going to seem like tremendous overreactions because that’s going to mean that the virus, the epidemic, did not get too far out of control,” he said.
As of Tuesday, DHS reported 457 cases of COVID-19, including 72 in Dane County. More than 8,200 tests have come back negative.
Five deaths have been reported from the virus in Fond du Lac, Ozaukee and Milwaukee counties.
Westergaard said the actual number of cases is likely much higher. Many people with mild or no symptoms don’t seek medical care or get tested, even though they can still infect others, he said.
“It could potentially be thousands (of cases) right now,” Westergaard said.Photos: A look at how the novel coronavirus is affecting Wisconsin