Green Bay area one of the worst COVID hotspots in the nation
By Ben Rodgers
GREEN BAY – With the Green Bay metro area as one of the worst in the country for COVID-19 cases, Dr. Ashok Rai, president and CEO of Prevea Health wants people to break the chain.
“This virus can’t live on its own,” Rai said. “If you’re positive with COVID-19, it’s going to keep replicating in your body for about 10 days and then it needs to find a new host. If we can break that chain, that’s how you defeat this virus. Breaking that chain is making sure if you have the virus, you are not giving it to anybody.”
He said that means people need to take their own health into consideration and make decisions to keep others from getting sick.
For example, coming into work after getting a test in the morning is a bad idea.
“The one thing people aren’t grasping – if you’ve been exposed, you need to quarantine,” Rai said. “Quarantine means staying home. Quarantine does not mean going out to dinner. Quarantine does not mean going to the grocery store. If you have symptoms, you have to isolate yourself until you have a test result back.”
On Sept. 29, The New York Times reported Green Bay as the seventh worst metro area in the United States, with 69.2 people positive per every 100,000 residents.
Wisconsin cities make up eight of the top 20 on the list with Oshkosh-Neenah at No. 2, Appleton at No. 5, La Crosse at No. 6, Platteville at No. 13, Stevens Point at No. 15, Fond Du Lac at No. 18, and Marinette at No. 19.
Brown County recently released a community dashboard, which excludes information from the Oneida Health Department, and shows the area has a 15 percent positivity over the past two weeks, with 77.4 cases per 100,000 people.
Rai said he would like to see 5 percent positivity.
“We’re asking for reasonable masking, reasonable distance keeping, definitely monitoring for symptoms and washing hands,” he said.
The county dashboard shows 73 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sept. 28.
Rai said this is putting a serious strain on hospital capacities for the four health care facilities in the area.
“We meet two to three times a day and talk six times a day just trying to work through beds and staff right now,” he said.
Rai said when hospital administrators are meeting every hour, the situation could be considered critical and people could have to be turned away from care.
“We’re in a situation where we are on the verge of being overwhelmed, but we’re not overwhelmed at this time,” Rai said.
He said three factors are in play at hospitals, staffing, space and testing.
“It’s not only physical space, it’s people that take care of the patient,” Rai said. “There’s so many things that go into the term ‘we have a bed open.’ It’s not just that you’re walking down a hallway and you see an open bed. There’s a lot that goes into that and that’s why the number is fluid for all four hospitals, because one day you could have 20 nurses at Bellin in the ICU and 25 at Mary’s and 30 at Vincent’s and the next day you could have 12 a piece because you have people who are out sick or exposed to COVID. The number is so fluid.”