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Some assisted living facilities stopping family visits amid surge in COVID-19 cases

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Many Arizonans in nursing homes and assisted living facilitates went months without seeing their loved ones when the state halted visits due to the pandemic in March.

Visits resumed in September.

Now, as the coronavirus cases increase statewide, some facilities are stopping visits once again.

Bob Murray’s 93-year-old mother, Pauline, lives at Sierra Del Sol, an assisted living center on Tucson’s east side.

We were with Murray this summer just before he and his mom were able to reunite in person for the first time in months.

On Thursday, Murray told News 4 Tucson he got word in-person visits between loved ones are on pause.

“My concern is because I was able to go and see her and go into her room and adjust things for her, fix them so she could get along easier, it’s become very difficult now,” he said. “It’s very disheartening. It’s very sad.”

“It’s just heartbreaking to think that they’re even putting a pause on outside visitation when everything suggests that an outside visitation is the safest thing to do as long as you follow guidelines regarding wearing a mask and keeping your distance,” AARP Arizona Director Dana Marie a Kennedy said.

At Tucson’s Copper Canyon Assisted Living and Memory Care, visits continue whether it be in-person after a negative COVID-19 test, outside socially distanced or window visits.

“Especially with dementia, they don’t know the whole scope of what’s going on,” Stephen Eatman, the Vice President of Marketing and Sales with Sunshine Retirement Living said. “They just know that they miss their loved ones and they want to see their loved ones. So, we have to be able to present a way for them to have that social interaction with their loved ones for them to function at a higher level.”

Murray worries the isolation his mom feels will only cause more pain that’s magnified by being apart.

“She was still pretty hip, she was talking about politics and sports,” Murray said. “And now, she can’t really even figure out how to turn the television on and off. I worry something is going to happen to her and I’m not going to be there with her, you know?”

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Eric Fink

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