While they likely envisioned celebrating this milestone under more favorable circumstances, Mary F. and Clarence E. Reardon felt blessed they could spend their 70th wedding anniversary together.

They officially marked this occasion Wednesday but celebrated with family members Sunday. As residents of Samaritan Summit Village in Watertown, they needed to ensure everyone adhered to the rules on social distancing.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted numerous lives. But the Reardons are fortunate in being able to jointly confront this crisis. They’ve had a long time to build up the faith they have in each other.

“As soon as Mary F. Reardon took one look at her future husband, Clarence E. Reardon — tall, redheaded and handsome — the rest, as they say, was history. The two met in 1949 when Mary was a senior at Sandy Creek High School, introduced by one of her friends. After dating for about eight months, the two were married on Sept. 16, 1950,” according to a story published Tuesday by the Watertown Daily Times. “The two came to the residential facility about six months ago just before the [coronavirus] pandemic swept across the nation and shuttered many businesses. Before coming to Summit Village, they were at home in Mannsville, where Clarence grew up, trying to get along. They decided they just couldn’t do it anymore — Clarence had been falling and Mary’s legs were making it so she could hardly move.

“In their time together, the couple had two daughters, but unfortunately one died a few years ago. Their surviving daughter, Karen, attended Sunday’s celebration with her husband, Joseph D. Plummer; their daughter; and her grandchildren — Mary and Clarence’s great-grandchildren. With the pandemic, Mary said it feels good to be able to see her family. And while she’d like for them to be able to visit the couple in their room, she said having meetings elsewhere like outside is better than nothing for now. She said both she and Clarence are feeling great that they were able to have an anniversary celebration at all this year.”

The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on the emotions of many senior citizens. State regulations for nursing homes have often compelled loved ones to keep their distance.

Facilities previously had to remain free from new infections for 28 days before they could allow people to visit anyone living there.

But state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker announced this week that the infection-free time frame was reduced to 14 days.

“We understand how trying it has been for New Yorkers to not see their loved ones and the challenges they’ve had to endure during this unprecedented pandemic,” Dr. Zucker said in a news release issued Tuesday. “The number of nursing homes that have taken the necessary steps to protect residents from the asymptomatic spread of [the coronavirus] while working to reopen to outside visitors shows that adhering to the DOH visitation guideline is the smart and cautious approach to allowing visitations. We continue to be guided by science and concern for residents’ welfare and will monitor nursing homes that host visitors to make sure this action does not lead to an increase in cases.”

Many people urged state officials to adjust this rule so they could begin spending time with loved ones in nursing homes more frequently.

Authorities heard these concerns from their constituents, and they responded appropriately.

Permitting more visitations at nursing homes while enforcing safety protocols is a welcome development. This will bring joy to seniors like the Reardons who appreciate being able to spend more time with the people they love.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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