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Task force plans to propose nursing homes visitation road map

The Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long-Term Care Facilities met Tuesday to discuss guidelines allowing visitors to return to long-term care facilities in the state.

Many families and residents of long-term care facilities have missed spending time together since the pandemic began. Now, state officials met to look at ways to reopen safely.

Tuesday marked six months since Skye Newell has seen her father Keith.

And Harry Levisky says it feels like forever since he’s hugged his wife of 60 years.

“I haven’t been able to see her since this COVID-19 business started and that’s since March,” Levisky said.

But the Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Open of Long Term Care Facilities is working to make sure no more couples or families have to be separated for so long.

The challenge in opening our nursing homes is doing it safely, so there is always a risk,” Dr. Joseph Pepe with the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County said.

The reopening plan has not yet been finalized but the current ideas are that each person has two designated caregivers.

If that goes well, and there are no new cases within 14 days, facilities may begin allowing limited visitation.

So there is hope that these families will one day be reunited. But how long will they have to wait?

Each long term care facility would have to follow guidelines outlined by the state with few exceptions at each location.

Maybe then Raquel Martinez can reunite with her grandmother face to face instead of through the window.

The meeting was held at 2 p.m. virtually on Tuesday. You can watch it here.

Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m.

If a plan is authorized by the task force, the measure will be sent to the governor by the end of the week for approval.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Drew Hill
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