Because of the virus, dads mark Father's Day from a distance

  • This handout photo provided by his family shows 93-year-old Wake Sharp, center behind plexiglass, visiting with three other generations of his family for Father's Day, Sunday, June 21, 2020, in Fairfield, California. This setup, in which they talk by phone, has enabled the family to visit in person during the coronavirus pandemic. Sharp's son Dan Sharp, on the right, says, "I don't know who enjoys it more. My family and I '" or dad." He paused then added, "Probably dad." Wake Sharp is a World War II veteran who worked for years as a vice president for the Montgomery Ward department store chain. (Courtesy of Dan Sharp via AP)

    This handout photo provided by his family shows 93-year-old Wake Sharp, center behind plexiglass, visiting with three other generations of his family for Father's Day, Sunday, June 21, 2020, in Fairfield, California. This setup, in which they talk by phone, has enabled the family to visit in person during the coronavirus pandemic. Sharp's son Dan Sharp, on the right, says, "I don't know who enjoys it more. My family and I '" or dad." He paused then added, "Probably dad." Wake Sharp is a World War II veteran who worked for years as a vice president for the Montgomery Ward department store chain. (Courtesy of Dan Sharp via AP) Associated Press

  • This handout photo provided Carlson Management and taken in the spring of 2020 shows a plexiglass cubicle, dubbed the "Sneezeguard 3000," at the Rockville Terrace assisted living home in Fairfield, California. A staff member built this and other cubicles for the company's three assisted living homes in California so that family members could visit safely with family members while on their phones during the coronavirus pandemic. They started using the cubicles in April and report that they've had very little coronavirus in their facilities due to these and other safety measures. (Courtesy of Carlson Management via AP)

    This handout photo provided Carlson Management and taken in the spring of 2020 shows a plexiglass cubicle, dubbed the "Sneezeguard 3000," at the Rockville Terrace assisted living home in Fairfield, California. A staff member built this and other cubicles for the company's three assisted living homes in California so that family members could visit safely with family members while on their phones during the coronavirus pandemic. They started using the cubicles in April and report that they've had very little coronavirus in their facilities due to these and other safety measures. (Courtesy of Carlson Management via AP) Associated Press

  • This handout photo from Snapchat, provided by Kelly Cooper, shows her and her father, David Cooper, in London on Oct. 27, 2018, his 71st birthday. Kelly Cooper, who lives in Bedfordshire, England, said the coronavirus and health issues they both kept them apart on Father's Day. "I hate that I can't be there today," she posted on Instagram along with the photo. (Courtesy of Kelly Cooper via AP)

    This handout photo from Snapchat, provided by Kelly Cooper, shows her and her father, David Cooper, in London on Oct. 27, 2018, his 71st birthday. Kelly Cooper, who lives in Bedfordshire, England, said the coronavirus and health issues they both kept them apart on Father's Day. "I hate that I can't be there today," she posted on Instagram along with the photo. (Courtesy of Kelly Cooper via AP) Associated Press

  • This handout photo provided by his family shows 93-year-old Wake Sharp on Father's Day, Sunday, June 21, 2020, in Fairfield, California. The plexiglass cubicle in front of him -- a safeguard to protect him from coronavirus during visits with family -- was built by a staff member at Carlson Management, which runs assisted living homes and memory care units for the elderly in California. Sharp, who lives at the home known as Rockville Terrace, is a Navy veteran who served in World War II. He spent time int he hospital recently after staff worried he had coronavirus, but he tested negative and was diagnosed with pneumonia. (Courtesy of Dan Sharp via AP)

    This handout photo provided by his family shows 93-year-old Wake Sharp on Father's Day, Sunday, June 21, 2020, in Fairfield, California. The plexiglass cubicle in front of him -- a safeguard to protect him from coronavirus during visits with family -- was built by a staff member at Carlson Management, which runs assisted living homes and memory care units for the elderly in California. Sharp, who lives at the home known as Rockville Terrace, is a Navy veteran who served in World War II. He spent time int he hospital recently after staff worried he had coronavirus, but he tested negative and was diagnosed with pneumonia. (Courtesy of Dan Sharp via AP) Associated Press

  • This handout photo provided by his family shows 93-year-old Wake Sharp, second from right behind plexiglass, visiting with three other generations of his family for Father's Day, on Sunday, June 21, 2020, in Fairfield, Calif. The plexiglass cubicle was built by a staff member at Carlson Management, which runs assisted living homes and memory care units for the elderly in California. "It's better than nothing!" Wake Sharp said. "I really enjoy it." Sharp is a Navy veteran who served in World War II. He says he can't wait to hug his family when the coronavirus pandemic is over. (Courtesy of Dan Sharp via AP)

    This handout photo provided by his family shows 93-year-old Wake Sharp, second from right behind plexiglass, visiting with three other generations of his family for Father's Day, on Sunday, June 21, 2020, in Fairfield, Calif. The plexiglass cubicle was built by a staff member at Carlson Management, which runs assisted living homes and memory care units for the elderly in California. "It's better than nothing!" Wake Sharp said. "I really enjoy it." Sharp is a Navy veteran who served in World War II. He says he can't wait to hug his family when the coronavirus pandemic is over. (Courtesy of Dan Sharp via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Posted6/22/2020 7:00 AM

CHICAGO -- Wake Sharp got to see his family on Father's Day -- see them, not hug them, not kiss them, not even shake hands.

Because of the terrible toll taken by the coronavirus on older people in nursing homes and other institutions, the 93-year-old Navy veteran and his loved ones had to stay on opposite sides of a plexiglass barrier and talk by phone at the assisted-living home outside San Francisco where he is a resident.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

'It's better than nothing!' he said. 'I really enjoy it.'

Dads at nursing homes across the country marked Father's Day at a forced distance from their families Sunday. Some families relied on video calls; others used social media to send their wishes.

The virus has made in-person visits with elderly and high-risk family members difficult and sometimes impossible in recent months, though parts of the country have begun loosening up. Maryland and Illinois were among states that allowed outdoor visits at nursing homes with masks and six feet of distance.

Frank Wolff, his wife and their son visited his 91-year-old father on a patio outside his Chicago assisted-living home on Father's Day. The staff took everyone's temperature and followed all other regulations.

'It was good to see him and get a feeling for how he's really doing,' said Wolff, who hadn't seen his father, Howard Wolff, since Illinois shut down in mid-March.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Sharp got to see his family through a plexiglass cubicle built by a staff member for Rockville Terrace, the home in Fairfield, California, where Sharp lives.

Four generations of the Sharp family gathered in a courtyard. The eldest among them, arriving with the help of his walker, took a seat inside the three-sided box with phone in hand, talking with family members on the outside on one of their phones.

'We hug each other through the glass,' said Sharp, who hasn't had a real hug from them in a long while.

This wasn't the first time they visited that way.

'I don't know who enjoys it more. My family and I '" or Dad,' said son Dan Sharp, who lives in Novato, California. He paused, then added, 'Probably Dad.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Rockville Terrace also had a car parade with families with signs for Father's Day and a barbecue so the dads could have steaks and burgers.

The coronavirus has killed an estimated 120,000 people nationwide. As of mid-June, more than 45,500 residents and staff had died from outbreaks at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to a running count by The Associated Press. That was about 40% of the total deaths from the scourge at the time.

Nursing homes have been among the last places to loosen restrictions. Families and nursing home officials worry about the effects the isolation is having on residents' mental health.

While video calls have helped, Rockville Terrace's plexiglass cubicle - which creator Jason Reyes jokingly calls the 'Sneezeguard 3000' - is another possible solution. It was introduced in April.

'It's not back to normal ' but it helps,' said Reyes, a managing partner of Calson Management, a company with seven facilities in California. He said he was driven to build the 128-square-foot enclosures after so many residents and family members were distraught when they couldn't see one another.

'The whole situation just tugged on the heartstrings,' Reyes said, noting that demand for cubicle visits - each resident's session with family lasting an hour on weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends - has been strong at the three facilities where they have them.

Throughout Father's Day on social media, children posted photos and messages about the dads they couldn't see.

'Happy Father's Day Pa! I hate that I can't be there today,' Kelly Cooper, who lives in Bedfordshire, England, wrote on Instagram, alongside photos of her and her dad, David Cooper, who's 73 and considered high risk. He lives on his own in London.

Cooper said her own disabling health problems also have limited her travel.

'As soon as this virus calms the hell down and it's safe to visit, then I'll be there. xxxx Love you to the moon and back Pa xxxx," she wrote.

Wolff in Chicago said his own father was happy to see him but took his mask off and was particularly frustrated that he couldn't hug his grandson. He is also hard of hearing and so has become a fan of talking on a big screen that has been set up so residents can make video calls.

'Just do the FaceTime,' Howard Wolff told his son. 'It's easier."

So his son said they will continue to do both types of visits. 'Yeah, so we can't hug. But he's safe,' Frank Wolff said. 'All in all, it's the only thing that makes sense.'

___

This story has been corrected to show that Jason Reyes is a managing partner at Calson Management, not Carlson Management.

___

Martha Irvine, an AP national writer and visual journalist, can be reached at mirvine@ap.org or at http://twitter.com/irvineap.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.