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New Jersey Hospitals Restricting Visitors As COVID Cases Hit Record Levels

MOUNT EPHRAIM, N.J. (CBS) -- There have been a record-breaking number of new COVID cases as some hospitals in our region set new rules to deal with the surge. Nationwide, the number of new cases just hit a record -- 265,000 per day on average.

It comes as New Jersey set another all-time high for new cases with 20,000 in one day. Pennsylvania saw 17,000 new cases of the virus Tuesday -- a record for the commonwealth. Delaware reported more than 1,000.

Hospitals in New Jersey are now putting restrictions on visits.

A long line wrapped around a testing site at the Willingboro Town Plaza Wednesday.

"We became friends with the people in front and back because the line was so long," one woman said.

Burlington County officials say this is the busiest the site has been since the pandemic started.

The line filled with people who have symptoms, were exposed to the virus, or just want peace of mind as the cases climb.

"I don't know if it's because of the different strand that's out or what, but this thing is very, very scary," a woman said.

This comes as New Jersey set a record of 20,000 cases in a single day.

"It's like someone sprinkled something in the air because it's going rampant everywhere," a woman said.

The statewide spike in COVID cases is also prompting New Jersey hospitals to take action quickly.

The New Jersey Hospital Association says they entered level red and there are now visitation restrictions in place.

"Last time we hit level red in New Jersey was last winter as an entire state," NJ Hospital Association President and CEO Cathy Bennett said. "We have to worry about who is walking through the doors, who is visiting and we have to put in restrictions so that we ensure we can continue to keep safe patients and staff."

Hospital officials say they these restrictions are tough on patients and their families.

"Because we do know how important it is that we take care of the emotional mental wellbeing of patients, not just the physical wellbeing. And we want to get visitors in back as quickly as possible," Bennett said.

The hospital association says it looks at visitation on a weekly basis so this can change in the future. Only time will tell.

If you do have to be tested, officials ask you not to go to the emergency department.

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