Beaumont hospital reinstates visitor restrictions, signaling growing concern about 3rd surge

Michigan's third surge in COVID-19 cases is prompting Beaumont Health to reinstate visitor restrictions, months after the hospital chain eased rules.

Under the policy, no person will be allowed in rooms with patients that have pending or positive COVID-19 tests. Patients that haven't been exposed and don't have the virus can have one family member or friend visit at a time under specific guidelines.

The return of restrictions is one of many indicators that Michigan's increase in cases is a worrying enough trend to justify additional rules in indoor settings. As the state grapples with its recent rise and how to address recently relaxed pandemic rules, outside states and countries see Michigan's spike as an ominous sign.

"We have noticed an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in metro Detroit over the past few weeks," said Dr. Nick Gilpin, medical director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology for Beaumont Health in a statement. "Community positivity rates have jumped, and we are seeing more and more COVID-19 variants, too."

Beaumont reinstates visitor rules

Under new guidelines from Beaumont Health, any patient with a pending or positive COVID-19 test will not be permitted to have visitors. There are a few groups with exceptions to the rule who can visit - all of who must be approved by the hospital before visiting:

  • Individuals approaching the end of life
  • Patients under 21 years of age
  • Women in labor
  • Other extreme circumstances where "the benefits of presence outweigh the risk of COVID-19 exposure"

For any patients confirmed to not have COVID-19, they're allowed one family or friend under the following conditions:

  • A person who is in serious or critical condition
  • A person is being evaluated for hospice care or near the end of life
  • An adult with a disability who needs help communicating
  • A person undergoing a surgical procedure
  • Women in labor or with pregnancy complications
  • Children age 21 or under can have two parents

Anyone who is granted an exception must first screen negative for symptoms of a respiratory infection. 

"We decided to restrict visitors after thoughtful conversations with our physicians, nurses and staff. We know that families are critical to the healing process," Beaumont Health Chief Nursing Officer Susan Grant, RN, said.

A March COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus cases were reported to be increasing in at least 10 states, health officials said last week. The state epidemiologist said that the recent increase in cases was similar to the October surge when cases reached historic levels.

While some see the recent increase in cases as a result of relaxing rules too soon, others claim it's a justification for a speedier vaccine rollout. 

Public health experts had hoped that inoculating enough residents in the winter and spring would reduce concern about more infections. The opening of a mass vaccine clinic at Ford Field would further enable the state to protect its Metro Detroit population with an additional 335,000 doses over the next two months. 

So far, more than 2.3 million people have gotten at least one shot, covering 29% of the state.

But the seven-day average of cases has risen by almost four times in a month. Hospitalizations have doubled in that same timeframe. 

Experts have attributed the increase to a reopening of high schools where infections have risen among activities associated with sports. The B.1.1.7 variant spreading in Michigan jails has also been seen as a reason.