Armed Forces Retirement Home residents reflect on their time during pandemic

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:12 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Lockdowns, government restrictions and isolation, it’s what everyone dealt with during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, 76-year-old Sharon Price stayed busy by changing the secondary flags when needed at the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

Price said much like everyone else, she and others made due during the lockdowns and quarantines by staying busy, and staying positive.

“I took exception to the people who talked about being in prison. And the reason I did that is because we were all free to leave at any time, with the simple consequence of when we returned, it was a two-week quarantine in your room,” Price said. “We took you your meals, your laundry was done, people talked to you on the phone, through the door. They had the nurse visits. It was not prison.”

Some of the nearly 400 AFRH residents spent the majority of the pandemic finding ways to cope, much like those living outside the fences.

“When we were impacted here, naturally being an averaged age of 84 in our residency, we had to just stay isolated,” said 90-year-old Dan Ellis.

Pat Smith said he made it through the rain, the isolation, and a quadruple heart bypass operation during the pandemic thanks in part to makeshift virtual gaming.

“Everyday with my daughter, I’d play Yahtzee with her by Facetime,” Smith said. “We’d turn the phone over, play a few games and get to visit.”

These days, any chance to visit is fine by 84-year-old Gary Francis. He’s one of the six Armed Forces Retirement Home residents that tested positive for COVID even after getting both vaccines.

“That’s life,” Francis said. “You never know what’s gonna happen outside of these gates.”

While Gary continues to get his post-COIVD energy back, he and others are just happy that they can get back out an enjoy life inside and outside the campus.

“As soon as we had the opportunity to leave, I was gone,” Price added.

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