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We Need To Continue To Be Vigilant To Prevent COVID-19

Wow! It’s already July and we have been dealing with COVID-19 for 4 months now. I wish I could tell seniors that this will all be over soon and we can go back to normal but unfortunately I can’t. Until there is a vaccine everyone, but especially older adults, need to continue to be vigilant to prevent from becoming infected. Many younger people who become infected will either show no symptoms or talk about the virus as the worst flu they have ever had. My nephew in LA had it recently and experienced a loss of taste and smell but had no fever or cough. Even though his symptoms were mild, I was glad he was nowhere near his 82 year old grandmother. People over 65 and those with under lying health conditions continue to die in record numbers every day. There have been 130,000 deaths in the US alone and 104,000 of those are people over 65, my daughter-in-law’s 95 year-old grandmother is among them.

As communities and businesses across the United States are opening, you may be thinking about resuming some activities, running errands, and attending events and gatherings. There is no way to ensure zero risk of infection, but you can reduce your risk greatly by following these guidelines when you go out. In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. So think about: How many people will you interact with? Can you keep 6 feet apart? Will you be outdoors or indoors? How much time will you spend together? Weigh how important the activity is to you before engaging. Is it worth the risk? For necessary outings like shopping, try to decrease the frequency to reduce your risk like going once every two weeks rather than going a few times a week.

If you start visiting with friends and family, try to limit the number of people and then interact with the same people rather than many small groups of different people. Encourage your group to limit who they are interacting with to keep everyone’s risk low. I have my son and his family staying with me so I limit contact with the rest of my family. My sister and her family are going to my mom’s house so she will not be isolated. We Skype and Facetime but we are not getting together in person as each time we do, we risk exposing the baby or my 83 year old mom to the virus. Delay or cancel a visit if you or your visitors have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days. My brother is a physician in a nursing home so his in person contact with our mother has been limited the last few months despite his weekly required COVID tests.

When visiting with your friends and family do so outdoors, whenever possible. If you must interact in-doors like in a church, make sure the room or space is well-ventilated and large enough to accommodate social distancing. Arrange tables and chairs to allow for the minimum of 6 feet. Consider activities where social distancing is easier to maintain like bike riding and yard games. Avoid kissing, shaking hands, or hugging visitors, instead wave and verbally greet them. Consider keeping a list of people you visited or who visited you and when the visit occurred. This will help with contact tracing if someone in your group becomes sick.

When you go out in public, continue to protect yourself by washing or sanitize your hands frequently. Do this before and after eating, before and after entering a store, after touching a pet, after touching door handles, elevator buttons, or things that may have been touched by others. Disinfect items from the store by washing or spraying with sanitizer before you bring them in to the house. Wear a mask that covers both your nose and mouth and ask others who come to your house to wear a mask. Droplets in your breath spread the virus to other people so avoid places where there are a lot of people without masks. Remember the only way you are protected is if the people around you wear a mask.

The Aging Services staff and I continue to work everyday to serve the seniors of Chautauqua County. We have limited our face to face interactions to protect our older clients. Most of our work is being done by phone or mail or by dropping items to people.

We will continue to distribute masks and sanitizers to seniors so that you have the basic tools to stay safe. Our next drive-by mask and sanitizer distribution will be on Friday, July 10 at all of our offices in Dunkirk, Mayville and Jamestown. If you can’t get there please contact our office and we will make arrangements to get you a mask. If you are thinking about reconvening a senior group activity, please know we are happy to provide you with the latest guidance from local and state officials to it can be safe as possible. For more information on anything in this article contact the NY Connects Helpline at 753-4582.

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