Thousands of UW Health faculty, staff issue open letter to Wisconsin “family”

In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo, medical staff attending to patients with COVID-19 wear...
In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo, medical staff attending to patients with COVID-19 wear protective equipment in a unit dedicated to treatment of the coronavirus at UW Health in Madison, Wis. Conditions inside the nations hospitals are deteriorating by the day as the coronavirus rages through the country at an unrelenting pace.(John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File)
Published: Nov. 22, 2020 at 3:02 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Thousands of UW Health faculty and staff issued an open letter ahead of the holiday season to start a “hard conversation” with Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin is in a bad place right now with no sign of things getting better without action,” the letter reads. “We are, quite simply, out of time. Without immediate change, our hospitals will be too full to treat all of those with the virus and those with other illnesses or injuries.”

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the letter explains how health care workers are still hearing of large gatherings that will take place despite health official recommendations.

The CDC is strongly recommending against traveling for Thanksgiving, and Dane County is encouraging the community to limit Thanksgiving celebrations to those who live immediate households.

If people don’t follow these guidelines, health care workers fear these gatherings will send more people to overcrowded COVID-19 hospital units.

“Inside our hospitals, we have patients gasping for breath, needing a ventilator to survive and too often dying,” The letter reads. “Many of them were walking around healthy just days before. Some tell us they didn’t think COVID-19 was serious. Others say they just wanted to live their lives and get back to normal.”

The letter comes as Wisconsin hit two grim COVID-19 milestone Saturday: over 3,000 deaths and over 350,000 positive cases were recorded, according to the Department of Health Services.

“Soon you or someone you love may need us, but we won’t be able to provide the life-saving care you need, whether for COVID-19, cancer, heart disease or other urgent conditions,” the letter reads. “As health care providers, we are terrified of that becoming reality.”

Even with the anticipated arrival of a vaccine before the new year, those from UW Health who issued the letter stressed that the virus is still very present in communities right now. The letter urges people across the state to continue to wear masks, physical distance and avoid large gatherings.

“Wisconsin, you are our family,” the letter reads. “Our only hope right now is you. Please work with us to get through this pandemic.”

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