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Family wishes grandmother a happy 95th birthday while social distancing amid coronavirus pandemic

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Kathleen Byrne's family had been planning her 95th birthday party for months, but were forced to cancel it due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, they decided to bring the party and a rendition of "Happy Birthday" to her — from a safe distance.

Kathleen stepped out the front door of her Syracuse, New York, home on her birthday Wednesday to a surprise celebration. A now-viral video posted to Instagram by grandchild Sara Byrne shows family members singing "Happy Birthday" and holding handmade signs in her yard while Kathleen smiles on.

"We literally call her an angel on Earth. She is just the sweetest person," Sara told CBS News. "So, her reaction was just typical Gram — a big smile on her face. She was just super thankful and it made her feel really special. We just wanted to make a big deal about her, even though she says we don't have to."

Kathleen's family canceled the original bash a couple weeks ago over coronavirus fears. Family members from all over the country had been planning to come to the party Saturday, said Sara.

"We all were a little bummed, just because we all love being together," said Sara. "We want to keep her safe and do whatever we can."

Kathleen, 95, falls into a group that is at a higher risk of getting "very sick" with the coronavirus — older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People who have "serious underlying medical conditions," such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes also fall into the group the agency says are at a higher risk.

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In communities, where the coronavirus is spreading, like much of the U.S., the CDC recommends older and high-risk individuals remain home "as much as possible"  — and all members of the community practice social distancing.

Sara said her grandmother is "feeling great and keeping good spirits" amid the outbreak, but the family didn't want to take any chances. While the party couldn't go on, Sara said the family was still determined to celebrate their beloved grandmother.

One of Sara's cousins had the idea that they head over to Kathleen's house and sing to her — then more and more relatives joined in on the plan. About 20 people — and a couple dogs — ended up surprising her this week.

Now, the family is tentatively planning a summer party for Kathleen, one where many of her seven sons, 22 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren can hopefully wish her a happy birthday —  this time a little closer.

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