Holiday restrictions for long-term care facilities

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Since the pandemic began, nursing homes have emerged as some of the hardest-hit facilities.

According to state data, the number of infections among people who live and work in Kentucky nursing homes has nearly quadrupled since mid-August.

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And, with the virus surging, the state is further restricting long-term care facilities which will impact the people who live there and those who love and miss them, just in time for the holidays.

“It’s been a sore spot for the entire family,” Watkins said.

Family, this is the time of year when people usually come together to celebrate the holidays but health experts are saying not this year, not during a surging pandemic.

Lexington native Bill Watkins, who now lives in Danville, says his family is disappointed they won’t be able to see his great grandmother this Thanksgiving but they try not to talk about that absence around her.

“She has very bad dementia, on top of all the other problems that she has. So we try to steer her away from that as much as possible just to make things easier on her,” Watkins said.

He says that Pine Meadows in Lexington does a great job hosting holiday events and getting the people who live there into the holiday spirit, which will look and feel different this season because of the pandemic.

To protect the most vulnerable, the state is putting additional restrictions on long-term care facilities.

“Just the end of October we had 15 facilities with about 15 cases in at least.  As of now, we’re up to 38 of those facilities. We have seen a dramatic increase,” Secretary Eric Friedlander said.

To slow the spread and protect seniors,  the state is severely limiting visitation and putting other safeguards in place.

“So we’re going to tighten up what we’re asking folks to do in terms of communal dining, and communal activities, group activities, offsite travel. We are tightening all of those things up because we must,” Friedlander said.

He says these precautions are all in the hopes that we can see our family members again in-person one day.