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One year later: Nursing homes recount the difficulties of COVID-19

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BYRON (WREX) — When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it didn't take long to see nursing homes were dangerously vulnerable to the illness. Because of that, most of those facilities closed their doors to visitors in early March of 2020. But the virus still spread.

"This has definitely been the most challenging year of my entire career," said Monica Plymale with Generations at Neighbors in Byron.

Plymale said she expected the visitation restrictions to last just a few weeks. But about a month in, reality sunk in. The virus wasn't going away, cases were on the rise, and a worker at the facility got sick.

"It was devastating and it happened so quickly and that of course is what makes it so challenging," said Plymale.

A total of 117 people at Generations would get the virus, and 22 would die. It was a tragedy not unique to the facility. More than 400 people in stateline nursing homes died, and the restrictions on visitors dragged on.

Now, one year later, many staff and residents are vaccinated and indoor visits have returned at Generations.

"Those indoor, outdoor visits are just amazing today. It really gives everybody a sense of normalcy again," said Plymale.

And while March 202 was the start of the hardest year in Plymale's career, March 2021 may be the beginning of the end of these trying times.

Kristin Crowley

Evening News Anchor
Kristin Crowley anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news. She is also a reporter for 13 Investigates. She brings more than a decade of experience to the newsroom. Her work at WREX has earned her multiple awards including a regional Edward R. Murrow for Investigative Journalism and three regional Emmys.

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