KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One Kansas City area hospital is back to limited visitation at its main location.

The move by Children’s Mercy Hospital comes as COVID-19 cases rise again in the metro. However, the case totals are well below peaks seen earlier this year.

Leaders at Children’s Mercy Hospital are returning to limitations in visitation. “Yellow Zone” means only parents and siblings are permitted to visit, and they must wear masks at all times.

The return to this policy comes as infection rates in our nine-county area have grown five times in the past month — from two percent to the current 10 percent reported by Children’s Mercy.

“We felt it was important to move back into the yellow zone,” Dr. Angela Myers, infectious disease specialist at Children’s Mercy Hospital, said. “My hope is that this is short-lived, though, and that we will see a decrease in the next couple of weeks and be able to transition back to the green zone.”

Hospital leaders are hopeful to see vaccines made available for children aged five and younger within the next few weeks.

“Even though we’re vaccinated, there’s still a risk of infection, and as we’ve seen more employees be out for illness, we’ve realized we need to keep our employees safe and our patients safe and we want to have enough staff to work,” Myers added.

Public health leaders in the metro aren’t surprised by Children’s Mercy’s cautionary move. The Jackson County Health Department COVID dashboard shows a small increase in infection rates, but fatality rates are down, likely due to vaccinations.

Dr. Sanmi Areola, health director with the Johnson County Health Department, said this isn’t at panic level yet but everyone still needs to be vaccinated and boosted.

“It’s a different context than we had a year ago, but if you are vulnerable, take additional steps to protect yourself. Hopefully, if we do enough of that, we won’t see a huge uptick in hospitalizations,” Areola said.

Public health officials are also keeping an eye on case totals as summertime holidays arrive and people begin to gather for a good time.