Colorado seniors protest coronavirus restrictions: 'We want to see our families'

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Residents at a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Greeley, Colo., organized a protest last week against the state's coronavirus restrictions.

About 20 residents, many in wheelchairs, gathered outside Fairacres Manor on Thursday during the roughly two-hour demonstration. Some held signs, including one that read: "We want families back.”

“They want to be able to hug their grandchildren, they want to be able to hold the hands of their loved ones,” said Ben Gonzales, an assistant administrator at the facility, according to Denver's KCNC-TV.

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Gonzales noted that residents are able to see visitors but they must maintain the proper amount of social distancing and can’t have any physical contact.

Resident Council President Sharon Peterson, 75, worked with resident Josie Sanchez, 76, in organizing the demonstration.

“We want to see our families,” said Peterson, according to the Greeley Tribune. “We miss the hugs. We don’t like the distancing anymore.”

Staff members, wearing masks and eye protection, were also present during the protest. 

“We want them [residents] to know that their voice does matter,” Gonzales added.

Fairacres, like many nursing homes across the U.S., was the site of a COVID-19 outbreak during the early stages of the pandemic.

From late March until mid-May, 16 residents were confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 while two-dozen residents were deemed to be probable cases, the Tribune reported. At least 46 staff members also tested positive or were probable for the virus.

In addition to a large number of cases, the outbreak saw at least eight lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths amid residents, as well as, five unconfirmed deaths from the disease, reports said.

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About 20 residents gathered outside Fairacres Manor on Thursday during the demonstration
(Google Maps)

The last known coronavirus case among staff or residents was in April. Gonzales said residents and staff sent letters in August to the state Department of Public Health and Environment and to Gov. Jared Polis, requesting that physical contact be allowed.

“We absolutely understand how difficult it has been for residents of residential care facilities and their families. Social interaction is essential to physical and mental health, and so we have provided guidance to residential care facilities that allows for that interaction while also keeping residents safe from COVID-19," Polis said in a statement Friday, according to the KCNC.

"Restrictions have been in place previously, but residents are now able to visit loved ones both indoors and outdoors. In addition, we are doing everything possible to help long-term care facilities mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by working directly with facilities on proper infection control practices that have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19," he continued.

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Colorado saw 967 new cases of coronavirus Monday, the highest number of new cases reported in a day since mid-April, according to the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment. There were also 290 hospitalizations as of Tuesday, the highest figure seen since May.

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report

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