State Fair Park in Wisconsin didn't host the state fair this year because of the pandemic—but the grounds will now be hosting hundreds of patients. With coronavirus cases surging in the state and hospitals on the verge of being overwhelmed, authorities plan to activate a field hospital at the site next week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the state hit an all-time high of 853 Tuesday, a jump of more than 200 from last week. More than 200 COVID patients are in ICUs. Authorities say the field hospital in West Allis, east of Milwaukee, will have 530 beds for coronavirus patients who are ill but not in need of hospital-level care.
"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," Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement Wednesday, per the Hill. Evers said the State Fair Park facility is being opened at the request of hospital leaders who are dealing with large numbers of patients and critical staff shortages. The Journal Sentinel reports that the field hospital was erected in about 10 days in early April by the US Army Corps of Engineers, but it hasn't been used until now. (Read more Wisconsin stories.)