The state senator is pushing for the further lifting of restrictions that are keeping families and loved ones apart

GREECE — At a press conference Wednesday, state Sen. Brian Manktelow, R-Lyons, joined others in calling for more fully opening nursing homes and assisted living facilities to visitors.

“Labor Day weekend is upon us and these family members have not been able to sit by, touch or hug their loved ones for six months now,” said Manktelow, at the gathering outside American Legion Post 468 in Greece. “Having heard from two of these families today, and the toll it has taken not only on their loved ones in nursing homes and senior living facilities, but their entire families, I think it is high time we do something about this.

“We are asking the governor to do the right thing and open these facilities back up for visitation. The numbers are down and we have protocol and PPE (personal protective equipment) gear in place. Let these families be properly reunited.”

The state allowed limited visitation to resume in July. The policy change came after New York banned visitors to nursing homes on March 13, as part of a series of public health moves intended to protect the frail and elderly residents most susceptible to the respiratory disease.

In a press release, Manktelow quoted speakers at the event.

Joanne Miles Thomas, whose father, George Miles, Sr., and stepfather, Norman BanAs, are both at Legacy at Maiden Park in Greece, spoke about how she has been unable to properly visit with either Army veteran since the enactment of the COVID-19 restrictions in March. Gelsey Randazzo Markese also spoke about being unable to visit with her grandmother, who is at the Edna Tina Wilson Living Center in Greece.

Additional speakers included Assemblyman Jake Ashby, R-Castleton; First Vice Commander of the American Legion Post 468 George Dadson; Greece Town Supervisor William Reilich; and Greece Town Councilman Mike Berry.

“We know how important visits from loved ones are for the emotional, mental and physical wellbeing of seniors in nursing facilities,” said Ashby, who is the ranking member on the Assembly committees on Aging and Veterans’ Affairs. “For nearly half the year, our seniors have been cordoned off from their families. Now that the COVID-19 infection rate has plummeted and we have better preventative protocols in place, it is appropriate to welcome family members back to these facilities.

“I regularly receive calls from constituents who have been unable to see their parents and grandparents. We have to end this heartache and reunite families once again,” Ashby said.

“Saving our seniors is saving our future selves,” said Miles Thomas.

“At this detrimental time when our senior citizens are being repressed from using their own voices, it is our duty to be their advocates,” said Randazzo Markese.

The rules that took effect in July allow visitors to facilities that have been without COVID-19 for at least 28 days, a threshold set by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Residents in the facilities are allowed two visitors at a time, and the visitors must undergo temperature checks, wear face coverings and socially distance during the visit. At least one of the two visitors must be at least 18 years of age or older. For each facility, only 10% of the residents can be allowed visitors at any one time. For example, in a 100-bed facility no more than 10 residents can have visitors per day in order to maintain proper social distancing and ensure safe compliance.

Manktelow represents the 130th state Senate District, which covers all of Wayne County and portions of Cayuga and Oswego counties.

Includes reporting by USA Today, New York State Team