AUSTIN — With COVID-19 numbers increasing in the region, Mayo Clinic Health System's Southeast Minnesota Region has implemented a no-visitor policy beginning 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The policy affects visitors at all inpatient and outpatient facilities, including hospitals and clinics at all Mayo Clinic Health System locations in the region except for those in Rochester, according to a statement from Mayo Clinic Health Systems.

"Our test positivity rates continue to increase in southern Minnesota, which indicates there is more community spread of the virus," said Dr. Deepi Goyal, regional chairman of clinical practice, Southeast Minnesota Region, Mayo Clinic Health System. "We know these restrictions can be difficult for some patients and their families, but we believe it is necessary to take these steps to protect our patients and our staff."

Exceptions to this policy for inpatient care include one visitor for pediatric and end-of-life patients, as well as for the birth of a child. Furthermore, one visitor will be allowed for outpatient care if the patient requires physical or cognitive assistance, or is a minor.

All patients, visitors and staff must wear a mask, per Mayo Clinic policy. Visitors should bring their own masks or coverings to wear while at a Mayo facility, the statement reads. If visitors do not have a mask, one will be provided.

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This policy will remain in place until further notice.

Mayo Clinic care team members will also help patients use either their personal electronic devices or other electronic devices to communicate with their loved ones during appointments and consultations.

For more information, visit the Mayo Clinic Health System COVID-19 website at www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/covid19 for the most up-to-the-minute information about COVID-19 and what to do if you have symptoms, unrelated health care needs, or need to visit someone at the clinic or hospital.