A woman named Mary Daniel had been unable to see her husband, Steve, for 114 days because of the coronavirus restrictions at the Jacksonville, Florida senior care facility where he has lived since last July. Steve was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s seven years ago. “I put him in a memory care center and everything was going really, really well. He was thriving with all the people,” Daniel said. “And in March, obviously everything changed.”
Before the pandemic hit, she was able to visit her husband each night and helped him get ready for bed. However, the facility closed to visitors starting March 11 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the vulnerable population that lives there, so she had to stop visiting him.
Daniel had no idea how long the lockdown would last and started trying to find a creative way to see her husband again. “Originally, I sent an email to the executive director saying, ‘OK, what do I need to do to get in there? Can I volunteer… can I bring a therapy dog? Can I get a job?” At first, the staff didn’t take Daniel up on her offers, and she became restless. She wrote to local and state officials to urge them to end the isolation of patients in senior care facilities.