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SWFL woman speaks out about COVID-19 restrictions after losing her husband to cancer

A Southwest Florida woman is speaking out after losing her husband to cancer. She says COVID-19 restrictions played a role in his death.

“It’s probably the saddest and the most helpless feeling that you can have because your husband is in a place where you cannot touch him you cannot hug him,” Mary Schouw said.

She was barely able to see and speak to her husband during his time in rehab.

The last video ever taken of her husband, Chris Schouw, was when he was in the hospital after a fall in late June, around a month before he died.

“Good looking guy,” Schouw said, looking at his photo. “No wonder I fell for him.”

Schouw “fell” for Chris decades ago, spending nearly 25 years as husband and wife.

“The sadness is just unbearable, but along with the sadness, there’s also a sense of what if I would have done this? Or what if I would’ve done that? What if he would not have gone to the rehab facility? What if I would’ve brought him home and cared for him here,” she said.

Her doubts and frustrations intensified when Chris landed in rehab. Phone calls didn’t work.

“The reception there, for some reason, was always so bad that we were always so frustrated both of us that we could not have a normal communication via phone or via FaceTime without it being cut off,” she said.

She only got to visit him once through a window because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I was completely shut out. Completely. So I felt helpless and frustrated sad and somewhat angry as well,” Schouw said, and she feels that separation hurt Chris even more than her.

“The man that I saw when he left the hospital was not the man I saw 10 days later when he was readmitted to the hospital,” she said.

She feels that loneliness and isolation accelerated his death.

“I truly believe in my heart that if I would have been there every single day you know, to be with him to check on him to see what his progress was or lack thereof, I don’t think that this would’ve happened,” she said.

She believes reform is needed and supports the state’s efforts to reopen elder care facilities to visitors.

“We cannot allow this to go on. It is such a devastating experience,” Schouw said.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Briana Harvath
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