(Beaver Dam) Health care officials in the region are urging the public to remain vigilant with COVID safety measures. The South Central Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition encompasses 29 hospitals in 14 counties including health care facilities in Beaver Dam, Columbus, and Watertown. The coalition is asking the public to get vaccinated and continue using masks and physical distancing where appropriate. With resources stretched, the coalition says it is becoming more difficult to receive care close to home if you may need it for COVID or non-COVID-related illnesses. In the past month, the total number of COVID hospitalizations increased four-fold in the region. In that same timeframe, there were five-and-a-half times the number of ICU hospitalizations. Many rural hospitals have no or limited ICU capability and are all reliant on the same limited ICU beds in larger cities. While the current high volume in healthcare facilities in the region is a mixture of COVID and non-COVID patients, the coalition says a rise in preventable COVID admissions is a driving factor. There are currently 452 active cases in Dodge County, which has seen 185 confirmed deaths.