Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Tuesday that he will lift the state ban on visits to nursing homes, local media outlets such as Fox23 News reported. The measure was adopted to prevent the spread of the CCP Virus to at-risk groups, and since March it has prevented seniors there from making contact with their families and loved ones.
In a press conference and with his voice broken by the evident emotion, the governor said, “Part of having a healthy society is understanding that human beings seek affection.” He continued, “Many of the folks understand that they have loved ones who are in the last stage of their life. They’re not demanding a medical miracle. They’re not having unrealistic expectations. They just would like to be able to say goodbye or to hug somebody, so … It was, you know …”
DeSantis reported at the conference that the decision was made following the recommendations of a working group on nursing homes. The ban was lifted hours later by an executive order.
Logically, visitors will have to comply with certain restrictions. Visitors will be able to enter two at a time, wearing masks and other protective paraphernalia. And the facility will have to go at least 14 days without any new cases of the CCP Virus among staff and residents to authorize visits.
About 62 percent of nursing home facilities in Florida have not had a new case of the CCP Virus since Aug. 11. The data was provided by Mary Mayhew, director of the state’s Health Care Administration Agency, who led the task force that accompanied the governor.
The point that generated the most controversy among the working group was the issue of physical contact between the elderly and their families. There were strong discussions between the group’s health experts and a family advocate.
The working group finally agreed that only essential caregivers would be allowed, not any visitors, to touch and hug the loved one. However, some members, including Dr. Scott Rivkees, Florida’s surgeon general, expressed concern and disagreement on several occasions.
While there were some disagreements regarding physical contact, all parties agreed on how terrible the isolation has been for the residents, who have not seen their loved ones for almost six months.
Working group member Mary Daniel was one of the most vocal advocates for restoring the residents’ contact with their loved ones. According to her, the elderly are dying of loneliness. Daniel took a part-time job as a dishwasher just so she could visit her husband, who has Alzheimer’s.
According to Fox News, other states have also begun to receive visitors in nursing homes, such is the case in New York, although with a much stricter regime.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that nursing homes in his state can allow limited visits only if they go 28 days without a case of the virus. Only 10 percent of residents in each facility can receive visitors per day and only two people are authorized to visit a resident at a time.
A group of medical staff and managers from several nursing home facilities urged Cuomo on Tuesday to revise the 28-day rule, arguing that the social isolation and loneliness that the elderly are experiencing during the pandemic made all the problems they usually have to endure in such places worse.