By Anica Padilla

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) — Residents at nursing and rehabilitation facility in Greeley organized a protest against Colorado’s coronavirus restrictions. On Thursday, about 20 residents gathered outside Fairacres Manor, many in wheelchairs, holding signs that read “Rather die from COVID than loneliness,” and “Prisoners in our own home,” and “Give us freedom.”

(credit: Natalie Dyer)

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Ben Gonzales, an assistant administrator at Fairacres Manor, said the residents are upset about the COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the state health department.

“They want to be able to hug their grandchildren, they want to be able to hold the hands of their loved ones,” Gonzales said.

(credit: Natalie Dyer)

Gonzales said the residents are able to see visitors, but they have to stay six feet apart and can’t have any physical contact.

Gonzales told CBS4 the Fairacres Resident Council wanted their voices to be heard — and organized the protest on 16th Street.

“We used to be lucky here at Fairacres to show each other what we mean to one another and we cannot do that anymore,” said Resident Council President Sharon Peterson, who is 75. “Fairacres follows the rules and, with that, we think they would keep us safe while being able to be with our families again.”

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“We did this because one thing we have to look forward to is a simple hug,” Peterson said. “It gives us meaning.”

(credit: Tina Butler)

Staff members were there during the protest to support the residents and keep them safe.

“We want them to know that their voice does matter,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said staff members were all wearing masks and eye protection, as required, and they made sure the residents wore masks and stayed six feet apart.

“Fairacres needs to be commended on how well they have cared for all of us, but it’s time for our voices to be heard,” Peterson said.

On Friday, the office of Gov. Jared Polis issued the following statement:

“We absolutely understand how difficult it has been for residents of residential care facilities and their families. Social interaction is essential to physical and mental health, and so we have provided guidance to residential care facilities that allows for that interaction while also keeping residents safe from COVID-19. Restrictions have been in place previously, but residents are now able to visit loved ones both indoors and outdoors. In addition, we are doing everything possible to help long-term care facilities mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by working directly with facilities on proper infection control practices that have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

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Anica Padilla