Early on in the COVID-19 lockdowns, my siblings and I didn't see our mother for almost six weeks. Thanks to the caring staff at the assisted-living facility she was staying in, we got a few Zoom calls but they were awkward and infrequent. It was unbearable to know that we couldn't see her and she was confined to her room, even for meals.

She was one of the very lucky ones. She tested positive back in mid-April and was sent right back into the facility per orders from Gov. Phil Murphy. The staff could only come in once a day and they were completely covered in PPE. She can hardly hear and the situation was frightening for her because she really couldn't understand exactly what was going on.

Thanks to the care she got there and a strong immune system, she recovered. Thankfully we were able to take her out of there a month or so later and she's been living alternately with my younger brother and sister.

Many families have not been as fortunate as us and we are thankful. The majority of deaths in New Jersey were in long-term care facilities and she somehow made it through. Now that she is out, we can't imagine what it must be like for those still in those facilities and their families who struggle every day wondering how their loved ones are doing.

Advocates have been begging the Murphy administration for some relief in loosening the restrictions on those facilities. They have a Facebook page called "One year, two shots, now what", to try and get some attention to their plight. They plan a series of events starting this week including a peaceful protest in Trenton this coming Friday March 12.

With almost all of the staff and residents having been vaccinated, it is time to let families back into these facilities. It would be such a relief and blessing not only to the residents, their families, but to staff as well. The last year has been most trying on those folks more than any other profession.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis's own.

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