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Nursing Home Staff Reunites Couple Separated Because Of Coronavirus

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Don and Joyce Hoffman have been inseparable for nearly seven decades. The 90-year-old couple got married in 1952.

DON HOFFMAN: We're not used to being separated. We come as a set.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

But when Joyce tested positive for COVID-19, the couple was separated while Joyce received treatment.

JOYCE HOFFMAN: He was afraid because I thought I would really feel bad.

MARTIN: Joyce was put on a different floor of their nursing home, and the couple were only allowed to talk on the phone.

D HOFFMAN: Couldn't we just get together, we said, hide somewhere and nobody would know we were together? But, no, that didn't work. They wouldn't go for that.

MARTIN: Eventually, the separation became too much for Don.

D HOFFMAN: After a while, I said I don't worry - I don't care if I get sick. I want to be sick. Put me together so we can get sick and be with her (laughter). It sounded good to us.

GREENE: Fortunately, Joyce had only mild symptoms. And five weeks later, she recovered fully. It was then that the nursing home staff decided to hold a surprise reunion. The staff lined the hall and cheered as Joyce was wheeled in her chair towards an unsuspecting Don.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

D HOFFMAN: Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.

(CHEERING)

MARTIN: They were both gushing with emotion.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

D HOFFMAN: So beautiful. Oh, my.

J HOFFMAN: How can you be so cute?

MARTIN: Ever since the couple's been reunited, they've been able to do the things they weren't able to do during the separation.

J HOFFMAN: Then, I got my hair done...

D HOFFMAN: Yes.

J HOFFMAN: ...By my hairdresser.

GREENE: And more importantly...

D HOFFMAN: To be together and to walk together and hold hands together.

GREENE: Don and Joyce are going to be celebrating their 68th anniversary on July 13.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE ALBUM LEAF'S "TWENTYTWOFOURTEEN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.