Some nursing homes and long-term care facilities are finally able to let people visit loved ones inside that have been alone for almost a year. However, in counties like Tulsa County, some facilities still can’t open up due to federal guidelines.
The guidelines are based on percent of positive COVID-19 cases in each county, but Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said that has to change. He challenged the CDC to change the guidelines for nursing homes.
Donna Gainey's 90-year-old mom Betty Alcorn has been in a Tulsa memory care facility for a few years with dementia.
"It's been really difficult because my mom has steadily gone downhill," said Gainey.
Before the pandemic, Donna said she would see her mom almost every day, but now it's been almost an entire year without visiting Betty.
"We're hoping to get back in to see her and visit her and love on her," Gainey said.
Kimberly Green, the COO of the Diakonos group which owns 21 Oklahoma care facilities, said every person inside an Oklahoma facility has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but she's frustrated because some facilities still can't let families in their building.
"It's important the public understands, we're just as desperate to get these buildings open," Green said.
State and federal guidelines said a county has to have below a 10 percent rate of positives in order to allow visitation. Green said many Oklahoma counties are below that 10 percent and facilities in those counties can open, but Tulsa county's numbers are still too high, so facilities have to remain closed.
She hopes those guidelines are changed.
"Most counties are lower than 10 percent and are allowing visits outside and inside," Green said.
Gainey said it's disappointing, since her mom and all her family members are already vaccinated, and she knows her mom is really struggling.
"When can we see her before we can't see her again?" Gainey said.
In his letter to the CDC, Lankford said they gave clear guidelines to schools on reopening and now they need to do that for nursing homes.
Green said even when every place reopens, there will still be restrictions like mask wearing, rapid tests, and physical distancing.