NewsPasco County


Local family asks for looser restrictions at Florida group homes

Posted at 7:17 PM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 19:17:27-04

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Barry and Paula Cohen haven’t been able to see much of their son Greg in recent months due to COVID-19.

“He’s a really great person and he loves spending time with his family," said Paula.

Greg, 32, has autism and lives in a nearby group home. But state restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have left those type of facilities under the same classification as nursing homes.

The Cohens say the first three weeks they couldn’t see Greg at all. Now, they are able to visit him through a screened porch.

But they say restrictions prevent Barry and others in the group home from any kind of outing.

“Greg is really upset that he’s locked in the house. He doesn’t go out at all," said Paula.

And more importantly, the Cohens say their son can’t leave for basic medical and dental care.

“The people are overweight. They are depressed. They are bored," Paula said.

The Agency for Person’s with Disabilities says they have no new information on when requirements will be lifted for group homes. Those orders are meant to keep residents and staff as safe as possible.

“Basically he’s confined to the house. He doesn’t go anywhere. He doesn’t go to his day program and no one can go into the house. A prisoner is basically what he is," said Barry.

We reached out to the Governor’s office to see when restrictions on group homes may be loosened and haven’t heard back yet.

Families do have the option of bringing their children home, but the Cohens say they aren’t equipped to care for Greg on a full-time basis, and that’s why he’s at the group home.

The Cohens also operate the Pasco Association for Challenged Kids. They've run a summer camp for years, but have had to cancel it because of the pandemic.