Hospitals are trying to stop coronavirus at the front door.

Visitors at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park on Wednesday faced questions from a masked hospital worker about their health and whether they belonged to a designated group that's allowed to enter.

In general, visitors aren't allowed across all hospitals and clinics operated by Bloomington-based HealthPartners, according to changes announced Wednesday.

"We're working hard to prevent the spread of the virus and limiting contact with people who have COVID-19 is an important part of our prevention efforts," Dr. Mark Sannes, a Park Nicollet infectious disease specialist, said in a statement.

Allina Health System launched screening at entrances after instituting a no-visitor policy across all its facilities, spokesman Tim Burke said. Those trying to get in must fill out a sheet with questions, including whether they have a fever.

"At this time, we are not actively taking everyone's temperature," he said via e-mail.

It's a similar story at hospitals across the state.

At Essentia Health in Duluth, visitor restrictions started over the weekend and the health system is encouraging friends and family of patients to "use alternative methods of communication with patients, such as phone calls, FaceTime, Skype or other digital channels."

At the Mayo Clinic, which is based in Rochester but has hospitals and clinics in five states, there are different restrictions based on geography. In Rochester and Arizona, patients may have up to two people accompany them in the clinic (outpatient) setting. At Mayo Clinic in Florida, visitors will not be allowed.

"In addition, patients and visitors will be screened at access points as they enter Mayo Clinic facilities, so they must allow an additional 15 minutes when coming to the clinic or hospital," the clinic says.

"They will be asked if they have respiratory illness symptoms, such as cough, shortness of breath, fever or chills," Mayo says. "There will be exceptions to these restrictions for end-of-life patients, pediatric patients and patients who need language services."

As it gets harder for non-patients to enter health care facilities, many are frustrated that the lack of COVID-19 testing leaves them wondering if they should be considered a patient.

Grant Rowh, 43, of St. Paul said his wife was exposed last week to someone who's tested positive for COVID-19. Trouble is, family members can't get tested after the state this week restricted testing criteria due to supply limits.

Rowh said he understands why public health officials are prioritizing patients who are most sick, but it leaves his family uncertain if minor symptoms are the early stages of the disease.

"We were told to essentially assume that we have the virus and to just stay home," Rowh said. "There's clearly a shortage of tests and obviously those need to be saved for the most vulnerable. The question remains: Where are the tests for everyone else?"

Christopher Snowbeck • 612-673-4744