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Texas law will allow families to designate essential caregiver to visit loved ones even during a pandemic

Families complained that their loved ones were suffering during the lockdowns. This will allow families to have an essential caregiver who can visit at all times.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers made a big move Monday to give families rights to visit their loved ones even during a pandemic.

Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 25, which will require nursing homes and assisted living centers to allow families to designate an essential caregiver who will be allowed in-person visits, even during a pandemic.

This is an issue the KVUE Defenders have covered for months. 

Families like the Reeds shared their concerns. Kim Reed promised her dad, Carl, she would visit him daily. When COVID-19 hit and locked down his assisted living center, she was forced to visit him through a window.

"It's been a rough year for him," Kim Reed said.

Carl Reed lost his wife in 2019, so the screen-side visits meant so much and yet those didn’t replace the hugs and the love of in-person visits.

“I know I'm going to lose him, and Daddy's ready to go be with mom. And we believe that's OK, but I never dreamed that he wouldn't have physical touch. We wouldn't be at his bedside. We wouldn't be holding him. We wouldn't do the things that we were able to do for my mom, for him," Kim Reed said.

Former University of Texas football Coach Fred Akers' family spoke with the Defenders too. His wife, Diane, would visit him daily.

"He didn't understand why his hand had to be on a piece of glass, why he couldn't feel anyone. Then he got disinterested because he couldn't feel the human touch, the hug, any of it. So it made him not talk at all," she said.

"It's like solitary confinement,"  Leslie Akers said. "It was killing him."

The Akers eventually brought Coach Akers home. He improved almost immediately, riding his recumbent bike. Then in December, he passed away.

Those heartbreaking stories made a difference, with lawmakers passing SB 25 this week.

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