Rhode Island's largest hospital group announced Monday it is suspending most visits in response to a rising number of coronavirus cases in the state.
"We have decided after great deliberation to take this step in these highly unusual circumstances to protect our patients and our workforce," Dr. Timothy Babineau, Lifespan president and CEO, said in a statement posted on the company's website. "We understand this is a great hardship to both patients and families, but we know that older and sicker people are most vulnerable to this novel coronavirus, and after careful evaluation of the evolving risks of transmission, we felt it was the most prudent thing to do."
Exceptions may be made in special circumstances, the statement said.
Hasbro Children's Hospital will allow one parent for each patient. Newport Hospital maternity services will allow for a birthing partner only. Emergency department patients will be limited to one accompanying adult, and the length of at that person's stay will be limited.
Visitors will be screened for symptoms or potential exposure to COVID-19, and will be required to wear a mask.
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Lifespan operates Rhode Island, Hasbro Children's, Miriam, Bradley, and Newport hospitals.
The latest average positivity rate in Rhode Island is 3.3%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Rhode Island the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test encounters using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
Rhode Island health officials reported nine new deaths and more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.