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Clinchfield Senior Adult Center closes to protect those at risk

By Charlene O’Dell

Due to the expanding COVID-19 virus and its critical implications for the most vulnerable persons among us, Clinchfield Senior Adult Center is closed until Monday, April 6. However, a few days prior to that date, the coronavirus situation will be evaluated and a decision made to re-open or extend the closing. 

The most high-risk are older adults and persons who have serious underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, kidney, or lung disease. Since this is a recently identified new virus, there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection, and none of us have any built-up immunity. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “the source of infection is respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which can spray several feet and land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.” 

For this reason, health professionals are recommending a distance of six feet between individuals whenever possible. The droplets may also end up on surfaces such as doors, counters, coins, items in stores or restaurants, etc. For that reason, people should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. The first line of defense is frequent, proper hand washing with soap and warm water, lathering and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. (To time yourself, sing or hum the Happy Birthday song or Row, Row, Row your Boat twice.)

As soon as you arrive home from any outing, wash your hands before touching anything in your house and before putting away grocery or other items. Then wash your hands again. If you have some inexpensive, disposable plastic gloves, put them on before entering a grocery store or similar business and remove them immediately after you unlock your vehicle. That prevents virus particles from transferring to your steering wheel or seats. I have been doing this for a couple of weeks, and no one has remarked about it or given me a strange look. Another reminder: always wash your hands before taking medications or refilling your pill box.

The most effective deterrent and only known way to slow down the virus is social distancing, which requires considerable self discipline for an individual or family. Many people consider the practice awkward or embarrassing, but for us older folks, it provides our greatest protection.

For now, when you greet a friend or family member, avoid shaking hands or hugging. If you are in the high-risk group, I encourage and even beg you to put yourself and your household in as much isolation as possible for the next few weeks. If possible, have someone deliver any essential items such as food or medications to your door without coming into your residence and accidentally introducing the virus. If you have sanitizing wipes or solution, you should wipe off any item that has been on public display.

Creating a pathway for social distancing is the reason for closing schools, senior centers, YMCAs, dine-in restaurants, sports activities, church services, etc. and curtailing visitation in nursing homes and hospitals. But these closings will result in slowing the spread of the virus ONLY if people actually “distance” themselves from other people during this period! Please consider doing this – for yourself and others.

Clinchfield Senior Adult Center is located at 220 Union St. in downtown Erwin. The usual hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The telephone number is 743-5111.