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CentraCare, Carris Health hospitals re-institute visitor limits amid COVID surge

The restrictions go into effect immediately.

Another Minnesota hospital system is re-implementing more stringent visitor limits because of the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases. 

CentraCare announced the revived restrictions, which apply to CentraCare and Carris Health hospital settings. Starting Tuesday, only one healthy adult visitor will be allowed per patient in those hospital settings. That visitors must be the same person.

For minor patients, the hospital system will permit two healthy, adult visitors.

Over the past 18 months, CentraCare — which operates eight hospitals in central Minnesota, as well as two more (Redwood Falls and Willmar) under the Carris Health name — has jumped between various visitor policies based on the COVID situation. In November of 2020, visitors were barred altogether except in certain situations. Those eased throughout 2021, until Tuesday's announcement, to the point where two health adult visitors had been allowed.

CentraCare cited the "the current surge in positive COVID-19 cases in our communities" as reason for the step in the opposite direction.

"We understand these changes will have a big impact on patients and their families," CentraCare said. "We appreciate the support from the community as we implement these changes to keep patients and staff safe."

At clinics, the policy is one healthy adult visitor per adult, if the patient has cognitive, physical or developmental disabilities. Minors can have two healthy adult visitors. 

CentraCare requites all visitors to wear a mask.

Long-term care facilities have their own policies, as different regulations apply, the health system added.

The move comes just a day after Essentia Health in Duluth enacted similar visitor restrictions.

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The state on Tuesday reported 16 new COVID deaths this month, as well as 6,352 new positive cases. Staffed ICU bed capacity remains below 15% in central, southwest and south-central Minnesota.

The current surge in cases is now disproportionately affecting counties in Greater Minnesota, where vaccination rates are mostly lower than they are in the Twin Cities.

Tuesday's COVID data found that 58.3% of the latest new cases were reported outside the 7-county metro, despite is comprising around 45% of the state's population.

Stearns County, where CentraCare operates, has a vaccination rate among those aged 12 and over of just 54.7%.

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