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Gundersen asking community to follow COVID protocols

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) Gundersen Health System's Chief Operating Officer describes the COVID-19 situation at the La Crosse hospital as dire.

Beth Smith-Houskamp says the number of coronavirus patients continues to rise.

As a result, they're planning to expand the number of beds at unprecedented rates to deal with those increasing numbers.

There are a number of challenges, however. For example, more than 500 health care staff are not working. They've either tested positive for COVID-19 or they've been exposed to it, primarily through community spread.

The remaining staff members are engaged in what Smith-Houskamp describes as an heroic effort.

They're asking everyone else to protect themselves and others by practicing the protocols - wear a mask, practice physical distancing, avoid gathering and wash your hand often.

While the hospital is adding beds, Smith-Houskamp says a continued escalation of that process is not sustainable.