JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Mary Daniel went 114 days without seeing her husband, Steve. She said their only contact was through a window screen.
“We did two window visits but they’re incredibly difficult. He cried at both of them, and so it was a difficult decision that I really made that this wasn’t in his best interest,” said Mary Daniel.
Steve Daniel has early on-set Alzheimer’s, and for the last year, he has been living at a memory care facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Before COVID-19, Mary Daniel saw him every day, but when nursing homes and assisted living facilities went on lockdown, his health took a turn, she said.
“He’s been isolated. So, this has been a really, really difficult time for him. He’s lost 10 pounds over these last four months. I’ve really seen him sort of wither away,” said Mary Daniel.
Determined to reunite with her husband of 24 years, she said she decided to ask the nursing home for a job.
“I sent them a letter and said, ‘What can I do? I’m desperate, I need to get in and see him. He needs me. Can I volunteer?’” she said. “Last Wednesday, I get a phone call out of the blue from the corporate office out of North Carolina saying, ‘You still want a job?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I still want a job.’”
She said she was offered a part-time position as a dishwasher.
“I had to do 20 hours worth of video training on everything from food safety to Alzheimer’s disease, to infection control, you know, the whole nine yards. I had to have a COVID test, a TB test, a drug test, a background fingerprint screen. So, it is 100% legit work,” said Mary Daniel. “I actually go in and sweep the floors of the kitchen, mop the floors, do the dishes, and then I get to go spend a couple hours with him.”
She said her new job may not be glamorous, but seeing her husband for the first time since March was worth it.
“He said, ‘Mary’, touched my face. Just to touch me and to know that I was still there, and to hug him. We both cried. I mean, I had thought about it 100 times, truly 100 times of how wonderful it was going to be,” Mary Daniel said.
Now, she wants to help others reunite with their loved ones. She has created a Facebook page, “Caregivers for Compromise – because isolation kills too,” rallying other families to urge Gov. Ron DeSantis to allow safe visitation.
“We can’t give up. We can’t, we just absolutely can’t. We have to fight for them until our last breath or their last breath. And I think we can be successful. I think when Gov. DeSantis, when he sees us and sees our stories, I think he’s a good man. I think he’ll do what he possibly can to help us and to help our family members,” she said.
- Coronavirus Timeline: Total COVID-19 cases near 175K, deaths now stand at 2,097 in the state
- CHART: Tennessee Department of Health’s count of coronavirus cases by day in state
- Greene County mayor extends mask mandate through September 30
- Video and pictures of packed house party near KU campus spark concern as virus cases rise
- Tennessee Coronavirus: Two weeks into September, state has seen a 12.48% increase in COVID-19 cases and a 19.56% increase in deaths
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County reports smallest 1-day increase in new cases so far in September
- Oxford and AstraZeneca resume coronavirus vaccine trial
- Tennessee Coronavirus: Total COVID-19 cases reach 171,824 with 933 new cases reported Sunday
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Inactive cases rise by 204 as Knox County reports 121 new cases & no new deaths
- As Trump played down virus, health experts’ alarm grew
- Dakotas lead US in virus growth as both reject mask rules
- Tennessee Coronavirus: COVID-19 deaths hit 2,064 with 39 new ones reported Saturday
- Coronavirus in Tennessee: Inactive cases rise by 229 as Knox County reports 189 new cases & 3 new deaths
- As restaurants, bars re-open amid coronavirus, CDC study urges caution
- Ohio college students test positive for coronavirus, throw party