BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Coronavirus hospitalizations continue to rise in Florida and Brevard County’s Health First is implementing a no-visitation policy.
Brevard Health said three of the 320 people hospitalized — as of Wednesday morning — with COVID-19 at its four hospitals are vaccinated, so 99% of COVID-19 hospitalizations at Brevard’s Health First are unvaccinated.
As of Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports 15,169 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Florida.
Health First says, as a result, its new policy will start at 5 a.m. on Wednesday at the Cape Canaveral Hospital, Holmes Regional Medical Center, Palm Bay Hospital and Viera Hospital.
“We have two hospitals that are extremely close to capacity but again we are lucky that we are able to rely on our other hospitals with additional beds, so system wide we are not at capacity. We do have flexibility there,” said Lance Skelly, spokesman for Health First.
Here is a list of exceptions where a single visitor will be allowed to the hospitals:
- Legal guardian or power of attorney
- Father or partner or doula may be permitted for an obstetrical delivery
- A child may have one parent visit
For an end-of-life situation, patients may have a visitor who is approved and is checked in through security. First Health said patients admitted outside of visitation hours will be allowed to have one visitor until the patient is settled into their room.
“Of course, patients with end of life may have a visitor, of course as you know, COVID patients before now we did not allow visitation, but they are also allowed to have a visitor for life purposes,” Skelly said.
Hospital officials said friends and family members are encouraged to utilize smartphones to have virtual visits for anyone who is hospitalized.
In late July, Health First stopped performing all non-emergency surgeries to help free up hospital space for COVID-19 patients.
In St. Petersburg, the amount of hospitalizations has increased so much, some patients arriving by ambulance have to wait outside a hospital for an hour before they get into a facility, according to a report from the Associated Press.