MINNEAPOLIS — Allina Health and University of Minnesota Health are implementing visitor restrictions this week to prevent the spread of influenza, which was deemed "widespread" last week by the state health department.
Effective Tuesday, Allina is asking sick visitors not to see patients at their facilities, and it is asking parents not to bring any children younger than 5 years old. Similar restrictions at University of Minnesota Health took effect Monday. A Mayo Clinic spokesperson also confirmed they are continuing to screen patients for illnesses.
In a report last week, the state health department said there have been seven deaths and 218 hospitalizations so far this flu season, as of Jan. 12. A total of 39 schools have seen outbreaks, too.
Marsha Studer, the director of infection prevention operations for Allina, said their health system has seen a 30-percent increase week to week over the past two weeks at urgent care facilities and clinics.
That is a "leading indicator that we're starting to see the flu season do its uptick," Studer said. "It won't be as bad as last year, but there's still time to get vaccinated. Vaccination is important."
Sick visitors can get an exemption if the patient they're seeing is in critical condition.
The rules will remain in effect until the end of flu season, which Studer estimates could be another six to eight weeks.