ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A total of 39 people have died from coronavirus in the United States so far, with a majority of those deaths occurring among America’s senior citizens.
Local agencies that cater to seniors are taking steps to keep the area’s most at-risk residents healthy.
“We’re advocates for older adults and we want them to continue to maintain their good health,” said Kevin Countryman, co-executive director for Freeport’s Senior Resource Center.
The center is one of many Stateline-area organizations suspending social activities for seniors, based on a recommendation by the Illinois Department on Aging.
“The information we’re receiving is that older adults, and those with underlying medical conditions, are a higher risk population for this strain of the coronavirus,” Countryman said.
Lifescape, a Rockford-based non-profit that helps the elderly, is also making changes, cancelling health promotion programs and meals they offer at senior centers throughout the Stateline.
“We know that our clients are most vulnerable,” said executive director Mike Hughes. “So, we want to go ahead and lean into that and say, we want to take care of our clients the best we can.”
Hughes says Lifescape is working on alternative ways to help seniors, who normally rely on eating at their dining sites.
“We will try to add them on to our home-delivered meal schedule as well, so we can still serve these clients, not just have them gather and congregate at one of these locations,” Hughes said.
Health officials are recommending “social distancing,” avoiding physical contact with other people and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet, but says people should remain in contact and check up on family and friends.
“We implore loved ones to please, check in on their relatives, friends, loved ones that are over the age of 60 years old,” Hughes said.
“Over the phone, email, with technology nowadays, you can video chat, FaceTime, however you want, and maintain that line of communication,” Countryman added.
The Keenage Center in Belvidere and Hub City Senior Center in Rochelle are also suspending all group and social activities, until further notice.