Gov. Tony Evers said on Sunday that he and other state officials are considering converting Madison’s Alliant Energy Center an overflow facility for COVID-19 patients, as work gets underway on a similar care center at State Fair Park in West Allis.
In a statement, Evers said officials have submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking permission for the development of the center. The so-called Alternative Care Facility would treat COVID-19 patients without severe symptoms in an effort to avoid overwhelming hospitals ahead of a possible surge in coronavirus patients.
Evers in a news release didn’t stipulate a date for the completion of the Madison center, its size or cost.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would oversee the project, and would hire contractors to assist. The Corps last week hired Gilbane and a number of subcontractors — including Staff Electric, J.F. Ahern and others — to convert an exhibition center at State Fair Park to house hundreds of COVID-19 patients. That work is now underway.
“This second alternative care facility will be an essential backup facility to ensure our healthcare system in the south central region is not overwhelmed. FEMA and the Army Corp of Engineers have been tremendous planning partners for our state and we are thankful for their quick responsiveness,” Evers said in a statement. “Wisconsin residents are doing a good job of helping to flatten the curve in our state by following the guidelines of our Safer at Home order, but we must continue our efforts to manage the pandemic in order to protect Wisconsinites. Hopefully this second site will not be needed, but we must prepare for it now so we are ready.”
The number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin has risen by 128 since Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 3,341.
The state also reported seven more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 144.
A total of 42% of those who died in Wisconsin were black, and 53% of those who died were white. While more females have tested positive for the coronavirus, males have accounted for 60% of the deaths in Wisconsin.
Health officials said 974 people, or 29% of all those who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Wisconsin, have been hospitalized.
Statewide, 35,916 tests have come back negative.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
– The Associated Press contributed to this story.