After a difficult year, the residents and staff of Taos Living Center finally received their first round of vaccines on Tuesday (Jan. 5).

The COVID-19 pandemic hit everyone hard, but few were as struck by the deadly virus as the staff and residents at Taos Living Center. In November alone, over 80 percent of the residents at Taos Living Center became infected with the novel coronavirus, according Dave Armijo, the facility's adminstrator. Thirty-three staff members also tested positive, he said.

Now there is light at the end of the tunnel. On Jan. 5, Taos Living Center teamed up with Walgreens to bring vaccines to those living and working at the long-term care facility.

"All of us, staff and residents, we are all really excited," said Armijo. "We vaccinated a little more than half the staff and the majority of the residents. A couple of residents opted out of the vaccine, which is their right, of course." That equates to 46 residents and 66 staff members.

"It's a step in the right direction," said Armijo. "Outbreak aside, we have been really affected in just the day-to-day lives of our residents and now we are looking forward to a time when we can ease restrictions a bit."

One of the many things COVID-19 took from the residents at Taos Living Center was the fun and the sense of community. The virus forced the center to place heavy restrictions on gatherings and events.

"We usually have a lot going on," Armijo said. "The buildings are usually filled with family and kids and dogs, and there are horses here. Now with COVID, it's just been a nightmare. We had to shut everything down."

Since the first round of vaccines was administered, Armijo said Taos Living Center has been able to resume window visits and compassionate care visits. However, TLC will only ease restrictions in conjunction with the state guidelines on community positivity rates.

"We are ready," Armijo said. "We are ready to open up, but a lot of the requirements and safety protocols are going to stay in place. I mean our testing system isn't going anywhere."

Partners from Walgreens will return Feb. 2 to administer the required second round booster vaccinations and to give new residents their first round.

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