"People are missing things that we take for granted, like little things like a hug," Paul Ayoub said of the creation

By Joelle Goldstein
May 15, 2020 05:52 PM

A couple in Arkansas didn't want to stop hugging their loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic — so they found a way to make it happen while also adhering to social distancing mandates.

Paul Ayoub said he and his wife Katie were bummed when his sister-in-law recently welcomed a baby girl, but they were unable to meet her in person or give the newborn hugs, according to CBS affiliate KTHV.

Wanting to see their new niece and the rest of their loved ones safely, Paul's wife got creative and came up with an idea for a front door "plastic hug blanket," which they would create using a shower curtain, glue and tape, the local outlet reported.

"It all spawned from the fact that my sister-in-law Kristie is having my niece, Moriah,” Paul explained to the news station. "It was my wife's idea that I didn't support in the beginning. It was just a crazy idea."

Despite thinking it was farfetched, Paul decided to go along with it and documented his wife's crafting efforts on TikTok.

"My wife bought jumbo-size bags, gallon size bags, and those are the armholes," Paul explained of the plastic hug contraption.

Within a day, the TikTok video became a viral sensation, getting viewed more than 1.5 million times.

In the clip, Paul explained how the "protective hug blanket" was used on his sister-in-law at their Arkansas home, before they took it on the road and embraced their grandparents and newborn niece — making the project "all worth it."

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After going viral, Paul told KTHV that his wife instantly reminded him how she was right about the idea he once called "crazy."

"It exploded and I got an 'I told you so' from my wife," he recalled. "Rightfully so. She was like, 'I just made you TikTok famous.' "

Paul also said he believes the video has been so well-received because so many people are missing out on hugs from their loved ones amid the pandemic.

"I think people are missing things that we take for granted, like little things like a hug," he explained to KTHV. "In a time where things seem helpless and scary, people gravitated towards it."

As of Friday, there have been more than 1.4 million cases and at least 86,736 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. In Arkansas, at least 4,366 cases and 98 deaths have been reported, according to the Times.

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