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Lifting Sprits Letter Drive: Closest thing to a hug

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EAST PEORIA (WEEK) -These are anxious moments for our nursing home population.

They’re waiting for the COVID vaccine, many are starting to get their shots. But, they can’t touch their family members with a hug or high five. So, as they wait for what’s next, we here at 25 News want your help in calming their nerves.

The Lifting Spirits Letter Drive aims to bring smiles to residents facing isolation in long-term care facilities.

“It’s been a very hard year for long-term care facilities and their residents and families,” said Monica Hendrickson, Peoria City County Health Department administrator.

But some hope is on the way, with vaccines arriving at nursing homes all over Illinois. So far, more than 56,000 vaccines were given to staff and residents in long-term care facilities in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. There are more than 100,000 residents in the state.

So, will restrictions on visiting be lifted soon?

“That’s really going to be guidance from CMS, and we’re still waiting for that to come out.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, recommended in September outdoor visits and limited indoor visits, only if the facility has been free of COVID cases for 14 days. And, you have to stay socially distant.

“We just want to make sure when it does come forward, it’s done safely and doesn’t put others at risk,” said Hendrickson.

Illinois' top health leader weighing in as the vaccine process at high-risk locations still isn’t finished.

“Most of the skilled nursing facilities have been schedules but to get three visits per locations and to get all of our long-term care facilities, we know that process will be many months.” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of Public Health director.

While we don’t know exactly when things will get back to normal, we can at least help make it a little better with a piece of paper, pen and some love. Something that can make a huge difference.

Write a letter of hope and inspiration and send them to our station at 2907 Springfield Road, East Peoria, IL 61611.

We'll collect your letters and distribute them to local care facilities.

Amber Krycka

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