Tuscaloosa residents visiting loved ones in local hospitals this holiday season will be required to wear a facemask when doing so as COVID-19 cases in the area climb again.

Leaders at the DCH Health System announced the change this weekend, and it went into effect Monday morning at midnight.

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DCH said its masking guidelines follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also tracks the rate of community transmission of COVID viruses.

The CDC recently upgraded the community transmission rate in Tuscaloosa County from Moderate to High as more than 13 percent of people who were tested for COVID received positive results last week.

"The COVID-19 community transmission level reported by the CDC in the region is currently listed as “High,” and flu cases have also been on the rise. Because of this and in an effort to keep patients and caregivers safe, DCH is changing the masking requirement found in its temporary COVID-19 visitation policy," DCH said on Facebook. "Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 19, wearing a mask in a DCH facility will be required for all visitors, patients and employees, with limited exceptions. Visitors are requested to bring their own mask."

Most rooms will be limited to one or two visitors at a time, who must pick up a visitation pass assigned for the room and return it to security as each individual leaves the building.

Review the entire DCH visitation policy here.

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