GREENSBORO, N.C. — As more and more people get their vaccines, some are able to visit family members in long term care facilities.
"I think we’ve lost time, I think they lost time this last year and in some ways, it’s been one of the most difficult years for everyone and especially when it comes to time with elderly," Todd Jones said.
Jones is the pastor at Hope Chapel in Greensboro and a licensed mental health counselor.
Jones got his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine Monday. He's thinking about what immunity to the virus will mean for visits with his parents in an independent living facility.
"I was always concerned about the fact that I might give it to them," Jones said, "Knowing that I've been vaccinated and they've been vaccinated there's just really such a relief."
Jones said his parents got their first dose of the Moderna shot in January and got their second dose in early February.
The couple lives in the Friends Homes West retirement community and Jones said indoor visits were not allowed as the pandemic raged in 2020.
"If we saw them, they would come outside," Jones said, "But since (February), I'll probably see them every week to two weeks now."
Jones said masks and temperature checks are still required when he visits but the facility is starting to allow residents to interact more.
"Hopefully with the CDC coming out with the new guidelines today they'll be able to take their masks off, all of those that have been vaccinated and live in that bubble," Jones said.
The Centers for Disease Control announced new guidance for people who are fully vaccinated Monday.
Federal health officials said people who are vaccinated can gather with other vaccinated people without wearing masks. They can also visit with low risk people like children.
It is still recommended that people who are fully vaccinated continue to wear masks, avoid gatherings and social distance when out in public or around people who are not vaccinated.
Jones' visits mean even more after so much time apart. It also comes as his father deals with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis--a disease that hardens the lungs.
"Overall he is doing great. He’s on a medication that’s very helpful," Jones said, "What’s been probably the most difficult has been just keeping on weight because again eating is such a social thing."
Jones is enjoying spending meal time with his parents. He's taken them Chick-Fil-A and even taken them out of their facility to their favorite restaurant.
"It just felt like a little bit of normal life," Jones said, "People are feeling better and better knowing that we’re not back to normal yet but that we’ve rounded the turn on the virus which is exciting."
Jones hopes visits with his parents can be maskless soon.
"There’s just really such a relief that I can go, I can hug, I can spend time with them--prolonged time, I can take the mask off and be able to just look at them face-to-face and be in their own apartment," Jones said.
The CDC said a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their last dose.
Jones plans to continue visiting his parents frequently.