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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

City Closes Senior Centers As Coronavirus Spreads, But Free Meals Still Available For Pick-Up Only

All of the city’s senior centers will be “on inactive status until further notice.”

The North Center Senior is located in the first floor of the St. Vincent De Paul Residence at 4040 N. Oakley.
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NORTH CENTER — The city’s senior centers will be closed Wednesday until further notice due to coronavirus concerns. 

Liza Martin, director of the North Center Satellite Senior Center at 4040 N. Oakley Ave., said in an email Tuesday all of the city’s senior centers will be “on inactive status until further notice.”

“This means beginning tomorrow Wednesday, March 11, there will be no activities of any kind at any of the senior centers. There will be boxed lunches available for ‘to go’ only.  All special events have been cancelled,” Martin said.

Seniors will not be allowed to spend the day hanging out at any of the city’s senior centers for the foreseeable future confirmed Quenjana Adams, a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

“The Chicago Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control recommend staying at home and social distancing as a precautionary guidance for people at higher risk [to COVID-19],” Adams said. “For example, the boxed meals are to-go for seniors to take home with them.”

Seniors will not have an option to sit in the centers and eat together.

Seniors can still visit the centers to get help with applying for public benefits. Food Pantries will also continue to operate during standard days and times.

Outside of these services, the city’s six regional senior centers and 15 senior satellite centers will not be open to the public until further notice.

Center activities normally include classes, special events, trips and recreational activities for seniors. The centers also serve a hot lunch daily, as part of the department’s Golden Diners Program.

Nineteen cases of coronavirus have been reported in Illinois — including multiple cases in Chicago.

Symptoms

Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

RELATED: Coronavirus In Chicago: What To Know As 19th Case Confirmed In Illinois

How To Protect Yourself

First, reject the hype: You don’t need a face mask if you’re well. The CDC only recommends those are already sick wear face masks because they help you avoid spreading the virus.

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where corona is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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