Hospitals in Marion County to restrict visitors as flu, COVID and RSV surge

Binghui Huang
Indianapolis Star
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RN Nurse from Riley Hospital for Children Patty Nannenga gives a flu shot at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Thursday, October 1, 2020. The museum partnered with Riley's Children's at Indiana University Health to give the first 500 people a free flu shot.

Hospitals in Marion County will soon begin implementing visitor restrictions to reduce the transmission of flu, COVID-19 and RSV, viruses that can lead to hospitalizations and death, county health officials announced Wednesday.

While these germs often cause far milder symptoms like a cough or runny nose, young children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses are more likely to develop serious cases should they fall ill.

Marion County Public Health Department officials said in a news release that hospital visitors with fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose will not be allowed. Those under 18 years of age are also not allowed to visit.

These rules aim to protect vulnerable patients at Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Ascension St. Vincent, Indiana University Health, Community Health Network and Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital. Family and friends should call the hospital with questions about visitation policy and exceptions, such as end of life visits.

Franciscan will start its visitation restrictions Dec. 21. Visitors are also asked to wear masks if visiting a patient with respiratory symptoms.

Both COVID-19 and flu cases are rising, according to state tracking. The state is seeing more than 900 COVID-19 cases on a daily basis, with more than 100 Hoosiers getting admitted to the hospital, according to state data. Flu activity is on the rise and considered moderate in Indiana, with four deaths this week.

In past years, visitor restrictions have included limiting the number of visitors to two members of patients' immediate family.

Vaccines are available for all three viruses.

“Getting vaccinated for flu helps protect everyone, but especially the very young and those over age 65,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, Medical Officer at the county health department, in a statement. “Vaccines for RSV and COVID-19 are also very important. RSV vaccine is recommended for pregnant women and for adults ages 60 and older. Like the flu vaccine, updated COVID-19 vaccine is available and recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older.”

Binghui Huang can be reached at 317-385-1595 or

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