FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2020
Contact: Krista Westervelt, 919-579-7413, [email protected]
Council on Aging Continues Extensive Programming While Keeping Its Centers Closed to Inside Programming through March
Pittsboro, NC – 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 March 2021, when it will reassess the situation. At the same time, the Council remains committed to assisting Chatham County seniors and their families.
“While we are encouraged by emerging news about the vaccines, we remain very concerned for the health and safety of participants, staff and volunteers as the COVID-19 pandemic still constitutes a serious threat,” remarked Larry Ross, President of the Council’s Board.
The resolution of the Council on Aging’s Board of Directors reads as follows:
Out of concern for the continued health and safety of participants, staff and volunteers, the Board of Directors of the Chatham County Council on Aging authorizes keeping the Council’s Eastern and Western Senior Centers closed to in-facility programming through March 2021. In March, the Board and Council management will reassess the status of COVID-19 and consider recommendations from the Chatham County Public Health Department and relevant others to inform conditions and timing for resumption of in-facility programing. In the meantime, the Board supports having the Council continue its ongoing work to meet the service needs of participants, offer virtual programming, and explore additional ways to safely assist those experiencing the effects of social isolation and loneliness. Along with the rest of the community, the Board looks forward to the introduction of safe COVID-19 vaccinations and supports having the Council’s two centers serve as parking lot drive-through sites for Chatham County Public Health to offer these vaccinations.
In making this decision, the Board considered several factors. These included the number of cases and positivity rate within Chatham County and North Carolina.
According to North Carolina’s county alert system, Chatham is currently listed as having “Substantial Community Spread.” In recent weeks, North Carolina has seen record levels of hospitalization for COVID-19.
The Board considered the advice of local Public Health officials as well as the State. The Board noted Governor Cooper’s recent message, “With a vaccine so close on the horizon, we need to keep doing what we know works to slow the spread of this virus and help save lives these next few months.”
“As much as we wish we could reopen our two centers to in-facility programming, 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,” noted Dennis Streets, director of the Council. “Because we know how much it means to folks to come to our centers for meals, exercise, education and recreational activities, counseling, volunteering, fellowship and so much more—this was a difficult but correct decision,” Streets added.
In the meantime, the Council is continuing its extensive efforts 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.
For example, from March 16th to November 13th, the Council provided 9,616 frozen meals and 14,565 shelf-stable meals to seniors sheltering in place. This will continue. Along with meals, the Council is providing incontinence supplies, assistive equipment, reading materials and much more to help older adults and family caregivers during this trying time.
The Council’s staff are also doing frequent friendly, check-in calls with participants and then responding in other ways to offer needed assistance. In addition, the Council is continuing its provision of in-home aide personal care, family caregiver respite, emergency assistance, minor home repair, and transportation. It is also offering a wide array of virtual programming for exercise and social engagement. For a calendar of these activities, go to https://chathamcouncilonaging.org/coa-virtual-activities/ .
Two additional priorities of the Council on Aging over the next few months will be partnering with Public Health to promote and provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine and continuing to combat the risk of isolation and loneliness over winter.
“While the pandemic has certainly brought anxiety and hardship to many, it has also spurred us to think creatively about our delivery of services and programs. In addition, it has reinforced the importance of the support we receive from the community,” cited Streets. “As we move forward into a new year of service, we remain committed to doing the absolute best we can to assist Chatham County seniors and their families.”
For information about the Council on Aging, visit www.chathamcoa.org or call its Eastern Center at 919-542-4512 or Western Center at 919-742-3975.