Oklahoma in Phase Three of reopening while nursing homes, long-term facilities remain on lockdown

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma is now officially in Phase Three of reopening. Bars are back open, businesses are able to be fully staffed and summer camps are back on, but nursing homes and long-term care centers are still on lockdown.  

Some families say the restrictions are doing their loved ones more harm than good.  

“We’re helpless watching our son go downhill,” said John Fenn, the father of a 40-year-old man with mental disabilities.  

Fenn’s son, Chris, is in an Oklahoma group home. Physically, he’s 40 years old, but mentally, he’s four. Chris has been stuck inside since the spread of Covid-19.  

“When you’re mentally four years old, you don’t understand what a pandemic is. All you know is you can’t see mom and dad,” said Fenn.  

Fenn says his son’s health has taken a toll. After not being able to see his parents, he stopped eating regularly.  

“He started looking thinner and more pale and he was just not doing well…He lost 52 pounds in 71 days,” said Fenn.  

Fenn tells KFOR he wishes the restrictions would be left up to the directors of each care center instead of broad guidelines enforced by state government.  

“Nobody wants to be the person to relax the guidelines because they don’t want to take responsibility,” said Fenn.  

Some of Oklahoma’s elderly are also suffering.  

“My mom is going through heartache,” said Debbie Payne, the daughter of Dot Strickland, who is in a Shawnee nursing home.  

Payne’s mom is 95 years old.

“When you reach that age and you do have family, that’s all you live for really. Is to be able to see them and talk to them,” said Payne.

Both families say they want their loved ones safe, but also say seeing them is part of keeping them well.  

“It’s reached a point where the preventative measures are greater than the risk,” said Fenn.  

“Someone needs to go in and be able to check their well-being…It’s almost like a catastrophe waiting to happen,” said Payne.  

KFOR reached out to the group home Fenn’s son is staying in but did not receive a call back.  

KFOR also requested information from the governor’s office regarding any plans to safely reopen long-term care facilities but did not receive a response.

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