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University Health reinstates coronavirus visitation restrictions as infection rates rise

The policy goes back into effect Wednesday.

SAN ANTONIO — Editor's note: The above video was originally published on July 23.

University Health says it will reinstate visitor restrictions starting Wednesday, a sign that the coronavirus continues to be a major threat in San Antonio and beyond.

Citing hospitalizations "climbing at an alarming rate," UH officials said in a press release that visits will be limited to those "deemed necessary to the patient's care," including parents of NICU infants; individuals providing support for patients with disabilities; support for critically ill patients; and support for women giving birth. 

UH is also limiting visitors to those older than 13, and while it encourages anyone coming to its hospitals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they haven't yet, officials say masks are a must for everyone. 

The latest COVID-19 surge has been exacerbated by a raging Delta variant as well as stalled vaccination rates. Local leaders and health authorities met last week to emphasize the continued importance of immunizations as county COVID-19 hospitalizations climbed to more than 400 for the first time since March. 

Metro Health officials have also said they expect more "breakthrough" cases of the virus among the local unvaccinated population. 

UH's announcement comes hours after the Centers for Disease Control updated its guidance to recommend face coverings for everyone in indoor spaces where infection rates are surging—even those who are vaccinated. Bexar County's positivity rate, which has risen for the past few weeks, stands at 17%. 

Meanwhile, other local hospital systems are maintaining policies limiting the number of visitors at their facilities. CHRISTUS Santa Rosa is allowing one essential support person for "most patients" and two older caregivers for those at the Children's Hospital of San Antonio. 

Baptist's guidelines allow for two mask-wearing visitors above the age of 15. And, as of last week, Methodist has also returned to its COVID-19 policy of just one visitor per patient.