COVID cases growing, misinformation and other barriers to vaccination

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:36 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to increase, officials with area hospitals say they’re seeing hospital beds fill up.

Almost every county in Wisconsin meets the CDC’s definition of a high level of community COVID-19 transmission. With cases rising, health officials are urging people to get vaccinated.

Though it’s not the only cause, at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, a growing number of cases of COVID-19 is contributing to the hospital being at or near capacity.

At Marshfield Medical Center in Eau Claire, Chief Administrative Officer Bill Priest said the hospital is getting ready for even more COVID cases.

“We have maintained a perpetual state of preparedness, readiness when it comes to COVID-19,” Priest said. “We needed to re-open our COVID unit--the specific area of the hospital where we care for COVID patients-- because of the increase in the COVID population that needs to be hospitalized.”

In a statement Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin said it: “continues to see an increase in hospitalized patients with COVID-19, and we expect that to continue in the coming weeks. We continue to encourage anyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated.”

Some people who are unvaccinated say they face barriers to getting the shot like getting time off work, transportation or child care.

Another barrier: misinformation.

While not unique to the pandemic, UW-Eau Claire associate professor Kate Hinnant said it can have dangerous consequences.

“Where it becomes a big problem is when people start making decisions about their health or about the health of their patients on the basis of misinformation,” Hinnant said.

Misinformation is something Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman tries to combat.

“I definitely have received phone calls from people in the community where they’re just asking me questions about vaccinations and the information that is out there and what is a reputable site” Weideman said. “I would say misinformation has been a contributing factor to some people not choosing to take a vaccine.”

It’s that vaccine that health officials say will help beat the pandemic.

To check if information is credible, Hinnant recommends looking at more than one place and going beyond your usual sources. She also says you should ask whether something is too good to be true as it’s easy to fall for something you believe or hope is true.

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