The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) with hospital and health system members throughout the state is asking the public to help health care in its efforts to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19 patients.

Wisconsin citizens can best help themselves, their neighbors and their health care workers by seriously embracing recent government orders and recommendations aimed at reducing social contact.

Adhering to these orders and recommendations can slow the virus and flatten the curve of its spread, preventing the health system from becoming overwhelmed and allowing health care workers to utilize precious resources to care for those most in need.

WHA’s call echoes the statement from Gov. Tony Evers, who stressed that people should stay home as much as possible. This is for two reasons. Tested and untested patients, whether having symptoms or not, can spread this virus and only those who are the most seriously ill should be tested for possible COVID-19 exposure at this time.

We have to slow the spread so that our health-care system does not become overwhelmed and our dedicated health-care professionals, who are on the front lines, are protected and there for those who need them. That’s why we reiterate the message from Evers. We want to make sure the public knows how they can help and why certain steps are now being taken.”

In order to ensure that capacity is available for patients who may need care and to help avoid further spread of COVID-19, hospitals are postponing elective surgeries and procedures that can be safely delayed. By postponing procedures and appointments, hospitals and clinics can minimize potential COVID-19 infection and preserve personal protective equipment such as face masks that health-care workers will need to care for a potential influx of patients seriously ill with COVID-19.

I know these are very difficult times for everyone, but the sooner we get through this the better and that’s why we’re asking people to take these critical precautions.