Almost a quarter of care homes in Cumbria are dealing with coronavirus outbreaks, the county council has confirmed.
Out of about 100 homes in the county 23 have multiple cases with 180 residents testing positive for the virus.
A Cumbria County Council spokesman said the "concerning" situation was being closely monitored.
The authority said it had experienced its worst week so far for new infections, with a rise of 39%.
They said in the week ending 8 January 3,489 people had tested positive for Covid-19.
Hospitals in the area were also coming under "intense pressure", the spokesman added.
Co-founder of the campaign group Rights for Residents, Diane Mayhew, said many relatives of care homes residents had not seen their loved ones regularly during the last few months, if at all.
She wants the government to bring in a new law so that family members can get regular tests to allow safe visits.
"It's a model that has been working in Canada," she said.
Vikkie Cullen, whose mother lives in a care home in Carlisle, said she was able to visit her recently because staff at the home had put up a safety screen.
"I want to see her as often as I can because God forbid if anything should happen it would be horrendous," she said.
"This last year, thanks to the wretched pandemic, I haven't seen her daily like normal.
"That has been the tortuous element of this."