New Mexico man sues state for right to touch his wife in a nursing home

by Peter Heck · Jan 4th, 2021 11:41 am

Gary Hein

Last Updated Jan 5th, 2021 at 10:44 pm

A judge has ruled that the COVID-19 restrictions issued by New Mexico's Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are too broad after a man sued the state for being prohibited from touching his wife in a care home.

Gary Hein, whose wife, Ann Severine, lives in a elderly care facility in the state, was banned by the home from visiting and touching his wife on grounds it presented a danger of spreading the novel coronavirus.

Before the COVID-19 isolation orders, Hein would regularly walk down from his own room in the independent living portion of the complex to visit and care for his wife.

Grisham's rules have isolated the married couple from one another, something Hein said has caused a decline in health for both of them. Despite repeatedly testing negative for the virus, Hein has been blocked from his wife.

"I know that if the tables were turned, she would be caring for me. She is the best thing that's ever happened to me in my life," he said.

The state judge agreed with Hein's argument that his constitutional rights were being violated by the policy. The court's order gives Grisham and the state of New Mexico three weeks to respond either with changes to the policy or a signal to continue the court battle.

New Mexico has not yet announced its intent.


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