Wisconsin state in the US is set to open a 530-bed field hospital at State Fair Park to manage a surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations across the state, Governor Tony Evers said.

The Alternate Care Facility (ACF) will start accepting patients in the next week. It will not cater to walk-in patients but will work with healthcare systems to accept patients who require care but are not seriously ill for hospitallevel care.

Intended to act as a transitional facility, the field hospital will provide oxygen and medical care for Covid-19 patients needing recovery support. This is expected to empty hospital beds for patients who are more ill.

According to Wisconsin, the state recorded 853 Covid-19-related hospitalisations as of 6 October, an increase of 71 from the day before.

A total of 55 of the state’s 72 counties meet the threshold of very high disease activity level, an increase of ten counties over the last week, according to Reuters.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm added that Wisconsin’s remaining counties are at a high activity level.

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With the rise in Covid-19 cases, hospitals in the state are also facing critical staffing shortages, primarily because of staff members being infected or exposed to the virus.

Evers noted: “We hoped this day wouldn’t come, but unfortunately, Wisconsin is in a much different, more dire place today and our healthcare systems are beginning to become overwhelmed by the surge of Covid-19 cases.

“This alternative care facility will take some of the pressure off our healthcare facilities while expanding the continuum of care for folks who have Covid-19.”

The ACF at Wisconsin State Fair Park was built in April this year under a contract between the US Army Corp of Engineers and Gilbane Milwaukee, along with other sub-contractors, including HGA.

Of the total 530 patient spaces at the facility, 296 offer in-line oxygen care in a temporary setting.

Funding for the field hospital will come from the $445m surge reserve fund committed by Evers to help Wisconsin hospital systems and communities manage a surge in Covid-19 cases.