Albany, N.Y. - The group called Take Back our Nursing Homes made a passionate plea at the State Capitol in Albany on Wednesday.
The group included a Utica woman, Karla Abraham Conley, who lost her mother Rosie recently during the COVID crisis and never got the chance to say goodbye due to the state's restrictions on visitation.
Some at the rally haven't seen their loved ones in months, others, like Karla, lost loved ones without seeing them before they passed away.
Those involved with the rally are not happy with the Governor's executive order stating that a nursing home or long term care facility can not allow visitors unless the facility has been COVID-free for 14 straight days, something that not many nursing home have been able to achieve since the pandemic began in march.
An attorney for the families urged them to go to the facilities and demand to see their loved ones, and if they aren't allowed, get an attorney and file a case against the state.
Abraham Conley says she's all for that, "That's something I think should happen. We have rights, we have our constitutional rights, civil rights, or human rights, the Bill of Rights, the senior rights, all kinds of rights and nobody is allowed to take those away from us and they have been, and I made the announcement today that if Cuomo doesn't sign this into executive order, walk in there go back and take your nursing home back."
Asemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon of Marcy was at the rally and supports allowing families to see their loved ones, but doesn't think having them go to the facilities is a good idea until the Executive Order is changed, "I do not recommend or support any individual taking actions that could upset the care and well being of our nursing home residents. The state has an obligation to work with nursing homes, families and residents to develop safe visitation policies and ensure residents are cared for and able to thrive. We must work on this using a regional approach, by assessing each region's COVID-19 data at any given point in time and by working with infectious disease prevention staff within each nursing home to provide the safest care for the residents."
In regards to overturning Governor's Executive Order, Buttenschon said the following on Wednesday, "The initial COVID-19 response demanded an ability for the Governor to respond quickly to the rapidly changing crisis. In May, after it was clear some of the Governor's directives were too broad and confusing, Senator Joseph Griffo and I introduced legislation (A10502/S8387) which would ensure the Legislature plays its rightful and equal role throughout emergency declarations by making the Governor's actions subject to review every 30 days. A governor should be able to do what is necessary to keep the people of their state safe in times of emergency, but this power should not be unlimited. This legislation would ensure that New Yorkers have a say in how the state deals with disasters and I will continue to advocate for it within the Assembly."
Senator Joe Griffo of Rome was also at Wednesday's rally and is also in support of overturning the Governor's Executive Order.
Griffo says he has called for the legislature to return to Albany and undertake its role and responsibility to be a co-equal branch of state government.
We contacted the Governor's office to get a response, but so far have not heard back.