For the second time in a week, Evanston-based NorthShore University HealthSystem is tightening restrictions on visitors.

Effective Dec. 27, the hospital network says, “No routine visitors will be allowed until further notice,” although exceptions are possible on a case-by-case basis.

As of Dec. 20, NorthShore had restricted non-COVID patients to only one visitor per day instead of the previous two. But now, the rapid growth in coronavirus cases, in part due to the fast-spreading Omicron strain, has caused the hospital system to go from one visitor per patient per day to none.

A news release headline sums up the situation: “NorthShore to close doors to visitors to keep patients and staff safe as Omicron climbs.”

As of the 20th, the total number of in-patient COVID cases at NorthShore’s Evanston, Glenbrook, and Highland Park hospitals had more than tripled, from 16 in mid-November, to 62. And figures released by the City of Evanston Thursday indicate the hospital system has added at least a few more COVID patients since then.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.