- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A group of residents at a Colorado nursing and rehabilitation home held a demonstration protesting state regulations that bar them from hugging their family members during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Enough is enough. Set us free,” Josie Sanchez, a 76-year-old resident at Fairacres Manor in Greeley, said through a microphone Thursday afternoon while parked in her wheelchair along 16th Street among 19 other elderly residents, the Greeley Tribune reported.

The group sat in their socially distanced wheelchairs for two hours while holding signs that read, “We want families back,” “Rather die from COVID than loneliness,” “Prisoners in our own home,” and “Give us freedom,” the Tribune and CBS4 reported.

“We want to see our families,” 75-year-old Sharon Peterson told the Tribune. “We miss the hugs. We don’t like the distancing anymore.”

Fairacres was the site of a coronavirus outbreak early in the pandemic, with eight lab-confirmed COVID-19 deaths among residents and five unconfirmed deaths from the disease, the Tribune reported.

Fairacres Manor Assistant Administrator Ben Gonzales told the paper that there are currently no cases at the facility and visitors are allowed to see residents inside the facility five days per week.

State restrictions say physical contact is not allowed, so residents and their guests are kept six feet apart and they must wear masks and eye protection, Mr. Gonzales said. He said residents sent letters to Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in August demanding the rules be loosened.

Mr. Polis responded in a statement Friday.

“We absolutely understand how difficult it has been for residents of residential care facilities and their families,” the governor said. “Social interaction is essential to physical and mental health, and so we have provided guidance to residential care facilities that allows for that interaction while also keeping residents safe from COVID-19.

“Restrictions have been in place previously, but residents are now able to visit loved ones both indoors and outdoors,” he said. “In addition, we are doing everything possible to help long-term care facilities mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by working directly with facilities on proper infection control practices that have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

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