LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System is taking proactive measures to protect its staff and veterans from the surge in COVID-19 cases by returning to its elevated status visitation policy.

CAVHS facilities will now limit the patients they see to veterans with scheduled appointments, procedures or other essential business that cannot take place virtually, officials said.

According to CAVHS, one caregiver over the age of 18 is allowed to accompany veterans if needed, but caregivers will have to wait in a designated area and observe social distancing. Service animals are also still allowed to accompany veterans to outpatient appointments.

One visitor over the age of 18 can check on inpatient veterans, and up to two visitors over the age of 18 may be allowed in the Palliative Care Unit at a time, CAVHS officials said.

Both veterans and visitors must wear masks while at CAVHA facilities, officials reported.

The VA also said its COVID-19 vaccinations clinics are open at both the Little Rock and North Little Rock facilities. Research shows the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters offer good protection against the variant, with widespread vaccinations preventing unnecessary deaths and hospitalizations, CAVHS explained.