Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital is located at 1199 Prince Avenue in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Jason Born)

While COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly around the country, local hospitals are limiting visitors in order to reduce possible infections.

All visitors at Piedmont Athens Regional are restricted except essential family members visiting patients receiving end-of-life care or labor and delivery support. Legal guardians accompanying patients who are minors are also permitted, according to a March 21 email from the hospital.

Visitors must call ahead and receive pre-approval and pass a health screening before entering the hospital.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly and we as a health system also must react rapidly to protect our patients and our employees,” said Michael Burnett, CEO of Piedmont Athens Regional, in the email. “While we regret the inconvenience it may cause for some patients, safety is at the center of our organization and we believe these steps are necessary to create the safest environment at our hospitals.”

St. Mary's Health Care System is implementing stricter visitation rules starting Monday, March 23. Visitors are prohibited in the intensive care unit and most other units.

Exceptions include the newborn intensive care unit, family birth center, surgeries, procedures, inpatient rehab and emergency department. At this locations, it's limited to one visitor. Further exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

St. Mary’s Health Care System already had health screenings in place for visitors, according to a March 17 news release from the hospital. The release said only one visitor was allowed at a time per patient and limited the visitor hours to 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. No children under 14 or sick people were allowed to visit.

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