In response to the outbreak of coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin is implementing a no visitor policy at all inpatient and outpatient facilities, according to a news release from Mayo.

Exceptions to the policy for inpatient care include one visitor for end-of-life patients, birth of a child and pediatric patients. One visitor will be allowed for outpatient care if the patient has a physical or cognitive impairment or is a minor. This policy will remain in place until further notice.

“We understand that these restrictions will be difficult for patients and their loved ones. We are taking these necessary steps to protect our patients and our staff. We encourage family members to consider other ways to connect with their loved ones via phones or other devices.”

COVID-19 is a newly identified respiratory virus that can easily spread. It shares several symptoms with influenza, but it’s treated differently. COVID-19 infection may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

Here is other important information about receiving health care in the upcoming weeks:

What To Do

If you are showing any sign of possible COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your local health care provider. Your provider or a nurse will direct you to a dedicated COVID-19 Nurse Line. If you meet testing criteria, you will be directed to one of their local testing sites.

What NOT To Do

This virus spreads rapidly. Help minimize potential exposure to other patients by not coming into a clinic or hospital to be tested. Please call your local provider first to find out how to be evaluated.

Patient Resources

Visit the Mayo Clinic Health System COVID-19 online resource site for contact information and 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.

There are options for care that don’t require a visit to the clinic:

• Message your care team through your Patient Online Services account.

• Express Care Online offers virtual care for 20 conditions. Log in to your Patient Online Services account through the Mayo Clinic Health System website or the Mayo Clinic App. Regular hours are 8 a.m.–7 p.m., although you can access Express Care Online 24/7 year-round. If you submit your questionnaire during regular business hours, you’ll receive an answer within one hour. If it’s after hours, you’ll be contacted by 9 a.m. the next day.

Remember to take steps to keep yourself healthy: wash your hands, avoid touching your face, distance yourself from others and practice appropriate self-care, including staying home when you are sick. It is also recommended you have a personal care plan in place in the event you or a family member are directly impacted by the virus.

Mayo Clinic Health System is making these changes in response to focus on prevention. They will continue to coordinate with local and regional partners to meet the needs of the larger population to take the precautions necessary for safety of patients and employees.

If patients feel they might have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or have symptoms related to the virus, ask contact your primary care provider first to be screened prior to coming to be seen.