Aspirus ‘cautiously optimistic’ about recent COVID-19 data
For the Tomahawk Leader
WISCONSIN – Aspirus Health said on Thursday, Jan. 27 that it is “cautiously optimistic” about recent COVID-19 data, adding that “top government health officials” have also expressed optimism.
“Data from around the country and the southern part of Wisconsin point to encouraging news about the omicron variant wave,” Aspirus stated in a release.
Citing The New York Times’ coronavirus map and The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), Aspirus said hospitalizations and positivity numbers are trending downward in Wisconsin.
“However, indicators within the Aspirus system are not yet as encouraging,” Aspirus stated.
“We’re cautiously optimistic about the omicron variant and what we’re seeing compared to delta,” said Jeff Wicklander, Aspirus Senior Vice President and President of Aspirus Wausau Hospital. “Yes, we have a lot of patients that are coming to be tested (and) in our emergency departments, and even some are hospitalized. However, the level of ICU acuity is less.”
Aspirus said there were 139 patients hospitalized across the Aspirus system as of Thursday, Jan. 27. 86 were unvaccinated.
“That number is on par with the highest level of COVID-19 patients in the Aspirus system throughout the pandemic,” Aspirus stated.
According to the release, 30 COVID-19 patients within the Aspirus system required ICU-level care as of Thursday, Jan. 27, down from the January peak of 43 two weeks prior.
Five patients were on a BiPap machine, a type of ventilator. Aspirus noted that earlier in January, it was “common to have more than 20 patients requiring BiPap assistance.”
The Aspirus Reference Lab reported a 3% decrease in COVID-19 positivity rates among tests processed between Jan. 16 and Jan. 22 compared to the previous week that produced a pandemic-high positivity rate of 39.3%, according to the release.
“These numbers have been good indicators for future hospitalizations throughout the pandemic,” Aspirus stated.
“Typically, when we have a big increase in our community positivity rates, for the next two weeks we’ll see an increase in hospitalizations,” Wicklander said. “However, we’re really not seeing that with omicron.”
Aspirus said its southernmost hospital, Aspirus Divine Savior in Portage, is “experiencing a steep decrease in average length of stay for COVID-19 patients.”
“We’ve seen a lot of the surge come up from the south up to the north, and as an example with Divine Savior, their ICU length of stay has gone from about eight-and-a-half days down to three days,” Wicklander said.
Southern parts of the state, such as Dane County, have higher vaccination rates compared to most northern parts of the state, Aspirus noted.
“We’ve known from the very beginning that vaccinations provide the safest environment for each and every community member, for our patients and for our staff,” Wicklander stated. “We also recommend those who are vaccinated greater than six months to get a booster. It’s very effective against omicron.”
COVID-19 vaccinations are available through Aspirus Health and numerous pharmacies in local communities. Boosters or initial vaccination series can be scheduled through Aspirus using the MyAspirus online patient portal or mobile app. Appointments are also available by calling the Aspirus COVID-19 Call Center at 844-568-0701 or 715-843-1454. The Call Center has been experiencing high call volumes, so community members are encouraged to use MyAspirus for convenience.