It's been nearly a week since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned visitors at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Older people, along with people who have an existing health condition, are more vulnerable to the coronavirus. The state's ban on visitors to nursing homes and assisted living facilities – at least for now – will last through mid-April.
For Joan Hipler, a nurse in Hollywood, that means she can't see her 92-year old mother every day like she's used to.
"Intellectually I understand it, but emotionally it's very very difficult," Hipler described. "Heartbreaking actually."
Florida Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez addressed the new hardships many families are facing with COVID-19 at a news conference in Broward County earlier this week.
"We do that for their protection. We want to make sure to keep them safe," Nuñez said. "So please, we understand these are trying times, we understand you want to see your loved ones but it is in their best interest that the state under Gov. DeSantis' leadership has taken that action."
Hipler's mom is in the memory unit at Five Star Premier Residences, a senior living facility in Hollywood. In the week since she's been barred from visiting, Hipler has relied on health care workers to stay connected.
"The Hospice Team visits her regularly. One of those people is a social worker and when she sees my mom she calls me," Hipler said. "The people that take of her are angels. I love them."
When Hipler visits her mom, they love to have sing-a-longs together. Other times, they simply sit quietly together.
"Sometimes I just hold her hand and she falls asleep while she's in the wheelchair. I just got off the phone with her a little while ago and she said she was so glad to hear my voice," Hipler said. "I mean, I was happy, I said 'I'm glad to hear your voice too, and I love you and I'm thinking about you,' – but, it hurt."
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