VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Residents at a senior living community took a literal swing at COVID-19 when they beat a piñata, in the shape of the coronavirus, after getting vaccinated.
The Westminster-Canterbury on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach, Virginia, held a party on March 9, a few weeks after its campus reached herd immunity when 99% of its more than 700 residents were fully vaccinated.
"So much of this past year has been challenging," the community’s Director of Public Relations Ashley Allman told FOX Television Stations Wednesday. "Residents not being able to go out and hug family members just because our seniors, our residents, are a very vulnerable population."
Allman said it only took minutes for the senior citizens to take down the piñata filled with candy, chocolate, mini bottles of alcohol and of course hand-sanitizer, reminding the residents that the pandemic still continues.
"There were no shortages of residents who were ready to take a bat and take a swing at the COVID piñata," Allman said.
"It feels like we got our life back," resident Brenda LaDell said in a video shared by the community.
LaDell was able to physically hug her granddaughters for the first time in almost a year. "They were more excited than I was," she said.
Allman said for the past year, the residents, like most of the country, had to adhere to strict COVID-19 safety protocols. On-campus residents had to hug their loved ones through a shower curtain at the "hugging wall." Plexiglass divided residents and their visitors when outdoor and indoor interactions were allowed in certain areas. Indoor dining services were also limited.
Some COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place. Residents are free to bring visitors to their apartments, but dining services remain limited to residents only.
"We’re still wearing masks on campus, but their loved ones are able to come and visit them, and they’re able to hug their loved ones," Allman said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 33 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, representing nearly 10% of the U.S. population.
March 11 will mark one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. More than 29 million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 529,000 Americans have died since the pandemic started.
President Joe Biden will address the nation Thursday night to mark the first anniversary of the pandemic.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.