Visitor restrictions lifted at hospital group as flu numbers decline

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NORTHEAST Wis. (WBAY) - HSHS-Eastern Wisconsin Division Hospitals, including St. Vincent and St. Mary's in Green Bay, St. Nicholas in Sheboygan, and St. Clare Memorial in Oconto Falls, is the first health care system in our area to lift visitor restrictions put in place to prevent the flu from spreading.

St Vincent Hospital exterior sign

ThedaCare and Aurora Health Care still have similar restrictions in place.

HSHS's move comes as the CDC's latest flu report lists Wisconsin's outbreak as moderate, down from high when the restrictions were enacted.

After nearly a month of restricting anyone under the age of 12 or people with flu-like symptoms from visiting any HSHS Hospital in Eastern Wisconsin, the hospital group has seen a significant decrease in the number of flu cases at all of its Northeast Wisconsin facilities and is therefore lifting the order.

"Most notably here at St. Vincent, they dropped by over 50%. And also, the most prevalent strain throughout the country has dropped to almost zero at all four of our hospitals as well," says Ken Nelson, Chief Nursing Officer at St. Vincent Hospital.

The latest CDC map, tracking Wisconsin's flu activity, also shows a decrease in the number of cases as the state is listed in the moderate category. And while while the numbers are dropping, the number of flu cases locally, is still above the threshold.

Jo Ellen Biadasz with Outagamie County Health & Human Services says, "The flu season is going to continue for some time. Even though the numbers may be coming down, they're still up there and we have to consider that the season isn't over yet."

Health experts can't say for sure if the worst of the flu season is behind us, so in this lull they're taking the opportunity to remind people about the importance of protecting themselves and others.

Biadasz says, "Flu shots, not too late. Wash your hands. And stay home if you're ill, you don't need to share that with anybody. It isn't a badge of honor to go to work ill."

And know that the flu season could run through the month of May.

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