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Some Arkansas nursing homes still not allowing visitors, leaving families hopeless

"I keep trying to be positive, but it's very hard to be positive when it's been this long."

JACKSONVILLE, Ark — There are still 134 nursing homes and assisted living facilities with COVID-19 cases across our state. With the virus inside the building, visitation is prohibited.

Virginia Johnson used to come to Woodland Hills Nursing Home in Jacksonville almost every day to visit her mother.

Since COVID-19 hit, those precious moments together have been stopped. 

Johnson described the last few months as heart-wrenching.

"Just waiting and hoping," she said. 

It's been almost six months since Johnson was able to embrace her best friend.

"I'm very close to my mother and we've just been there for each other for years and years, so it's just been real hard to not get to see her, it's devastating," she said. 

Since the coronavirus entered the building Johnson's mom, Lois Jones, has called home for the past five years their days have been spent talking with a phone or window screen between them.

"I can't tell you how many times I wanted to just go get her but I'm not able to take care of her. I know that my heart doesn't know that, but my head does," she said. 

The separation and unknown tearing Johnson apart daily.

"I just have to go to bed sometimes for days because I can't. All I want to do is be by myself and get in a dark place," she said. 

Johnson's anxiety rising every time the phone rings.

"When I see the phone call from Woodland Hills coming in, I panic. I think, 'oh my god, something has happened to my mama," she said.

Her 99-year-old mother all alone is what pains Johnson the most.

"I'm just thinking here she is, almost 100-years-old, and she's going to end up dying of being lonesome," she said. 

Johnson said it's hard to even put into words what the past months have been like for families, just like hers.

"I keep trying to be positive, but it's very hard to be positive when it's been this long," she said.

According to Johnson, Woodland Hills was close to being COVID-19 free for 28 days, which meant visitors would be allowed, but on day 21 they got another case.

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