TAMPA (WFLA) – BayCare has announced it’s tightening its visitation rules beginning Aug. 3 due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in Florida.

BayCare is also pausing all elective procedures at its six hospitals in Hillsborough County to ensure capacity for the community’s acute health care needs.

The hospitals impacted are: St. Joseph’s, St. Joseph’s Children’s and St. Joseph’s Women’s in Tampa; St. Joseph’s North in Lutz; St. Joseph’s South in Riverview; and South Florida Baptist in Plant City.

“No one takes any pleasure in having to limit visits from patients’ loved ones or telling someone they will need to wait for their procedure,” said BayCare Chief Operating Officer Glenn Waters. “But our first priority has to be to keep our facilities as safe as possible for all our patients and caregivers so patients can recover and return home as soon as possible.”

Starting Tuesday, patients will be allowed one adult visitor per day during the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. All visitors must wear masks, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, and are to limit their movements in the hospitals to travel to and from the patient’s room. 

In Polk County, Winter Haven and Winter Haven Women’s hospitals and Bartow Medical Center are continuing to pause elective procedures that require an overnight stay in an inpatient bed.

No changes in elective procedure scheduling are anticipated at this time for BayCare’s hospitals in Pinellas and Pasco counties, which includes Morton Plant in Clearwater, Mease Countryside, Mease Dunedin, St. Anthony’s in St. Petersburg, and Morton Plant North Bay in New Port Richey.

“We are shifting our resources as the community’s needs require. Our priority will always be patient safety and being sure we are available to serve our communities’ acute health needs,” Waters said.

Elective procedures are those that can be delayed without danger to the patient. Urgent and emergent procedures will continue.

BayCare will determine at a later date when to start rescheduling appointments.