Updated 2:05 p.m. | Posted 10:47 a.m.
Allina Health said Monday it doesn't want kids under 5 years old to come to its hospitals and clinics unless they need medical care.
The move is an attempt to keep the current Minnesota measles outbreak at bay. Allina said "compassionate exceptions may be considered based on a patients' critical condition" but added that all children ages 10 and under must wear a mask while in the hospital or at an Allina clinic, and anyone with a cough or sore throat should wear a mask while in the hospital.
State health leaders have been wrestling with whether to put restrictions in place to combat the monthlong measles outbreak.
Most of the 48 cases confirmed in the past four weeks are concentrated in Hennepin County and involve unvaccinated children within Minnesota's Somali-American community. But the exposure is also in Ramsey County, and a case also popped up last week in Crow Wing County in central Minnesota.
The Crow Wing County case raised a warning flag for Minnesota health authorities, who are worried that the circle of people exposed to the disease is widening and they may need to reach for stronger tools to stop it.
To contain the spread, the state Health Department is asking people exposed to measles to voluntarily avoid contact with other people for 21 days. If that doesn't work, the state can get a court order to quarantine people within their homes, although officials on Friday stressed there are no cases currently where quarantine is being considered.
The Allina restrictions on visits by children younger than 5 years include River Falls Area Hospital in River Falls, Wis. The remaining are in Minnesota, including:
• Abbot Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis
• Buffalo Hospital
• Cambridge Medical Center
• District One Hospital, Faribault
• Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids
• Mercy Hospital, Unity Campus, Fridley
• New Ulm Medical Center
• Owatonna Hospital
• Phillips Eye Institute, Minneapolis
• Regina Hospital, Hastings
• St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Shakopee
• United Hospital, St. Paul
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