JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s been 117 days since visitors have been allowed inside Florida long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, to see their loved ones.
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued the ban as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to vulnerable populations.
That ban on nursing home visitors was extended another two months Tuesday when DeSantis extended his state of emergency for Florida by 60 days.
But advocates for those living under these restraints say the threat of loneliness is a far greater danger.
Since the first state of emergency went into effect about 2,000 residents have died alone without family members or friends as a result. There’s now a petition to end the ban.
A post on the petition’s site reads,
“The state of Florida has lifted restrictions on restaurants, youth activities, school, stay at home orders yet continues to deny family members the right to visit loved ones in assisted living. The ban to visit loved ones has continued for over 100 days in the state of Florida. It is time to allow family visits. Let us visit, care, and advocate for our loved ones now.”
As of 6 a.m., the petition has more than 300 signatures.
The extension by DeSantis is based on the newest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It directs nursing homes to significantly restrict visitors and nonessential personnel, as well as restrict communal activities inside nursing homes.
The measures are meant to protect America’s seniors, who are at high risk for complications and death from COVID-19. Advocates for the ban argue that while visitor restrictions may be difficult for residents and families, it is an important temporary measure for their protection.