Pittsboro, NC – Out of concern for the continued health and safety of participants, staff and volunteers, the Board of Directors and management of the Chatham County Council on Aging have decided to keep the interior facilities of the Council’s Eastern and Western Senior Centers closed to the public through December 2020. At the same time, the Council remains committed to assisting Chatham County seniors and their families.
“This has not been an easy decision given all of the programming that typically takes place within our two State-designated Senior Centers of Excellence—located in Pittsboro and Siler City,” remarked Dennis Streets, director of the Council. “We know how much it means to folks to come to our centers for meals, exercise, education and recreational activities, counseling, volunteering, and so much more—especially fellowship with friends,” added Streets.
Streets noted that the decision was based on the latest public health reports and is consistent with Governor Cooper’s latest Executive Order, issued on September 4.
The Governor’s order emphasized that slowing and controlling community spread of COVID-19 are critical to ensuring that the state’s healthcare facilities remain able to accommodate those who require medical assistance. The order also encouraged all to remain vigilant to prevent a surge in cases and to exercise caution in loosening restrictions in high-risk settings in particular.
As reflected in the order, science indicates that the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 is higher in indoor settings where air does not circulate freely and people are less likely to maintain social distancing, especially in situations where people are in close contact for extended periods of time.
Maybe most importantly, the Governor’s order strongly encourages people who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to stay home and travel only for absolutely essential purposes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines high-risk individuals as those aged 65 years or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
In December, the Council on Aging will reassess the status of COVID-19 and use the guidance of Chatham County Public Health and other experts to inform next steps.
In the meantime, the Council will continue working hard to assist Chatham County seniors and their families. Ever since the Centers were closed to in-facility programming in early March, the Council has remained committed to its mission as a nonprofit organization, established 46 years ago.
“Since 1974, our Council on Aging has been devoted to helping older adults remain active, healthy and able to remain living safely in the community. This mission has never been more important than now with COVID-19,” cited Larry Ross, president of the Council’s Board of Directors.
Each week the Council on Aging delivers meals and supplies to seniors across Chatham County. Along with those who were already receiving these deliveries from the Council, over 63 additional seniors have started receiving food assistance from the Council since the pandemic began.
The Council has also developed a wide array of virtual and online programming options. The September calendar, for example, includes sessions on body conditioning, strong and fit classes, Tai Chi for arthritis, bingo, live music, and educational presentations. For further information, go to chathamcouncilonaging.org/coa-virtual-activities/.
Council staff at both centers are assisting Chatham’s older adults in many other ways—such as making friendly, check-in phone calls; providing assistive equipment; and more recently, driving to the homes of those most isolated for an outside, physically-distanced visit. “We are very concerned about the potential serious effect of social isolation and loneliness,” voiced Streets.
In addition, the Council continues to work with its many community partners. With Rebuilding Together of the Triangle, the Council is supporting efforts to address homes in need of modification and repair. Working with the Chatham Transit Network, the Council is arranging and supporting trips to medical appointments. Through its contracts with home care agencies, the Council is providing in-home personal care and respite for family caregivers. And with Walgreens, the Council is offering drive-by vaccination clinics at both of its centers in the coming weeks.
“It is particularly important that people have an opportunity to get the flu vaccine this year,” commented Streets. “This is just one more way that we are striving to protect and help our seniors through this difficult time. We look forward to the day when we can meet again with participants and volunteers within our centers.”
“Toward this end, we are actively joining the chorus of those calling upon all North Carolinians to consistently practice the 3Ws—wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, waiting six feet apart, and washing your hands often,” added Ross.
For more information about the work of the Chatham County Council on Aging visit www.chathamcoa.org. People can also call the Eastern Center in Pittsboro at 919-542-4512, and the Western Center in Siler City at 919-742-3975.