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Senior Centers Closed To Stem Coronavirus

Fox Valley Older Adult Services in a file photo from 2017
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
This building houses Fox Valley Older Adult Services in Sandwich, Ill., is among the senior centers ordered closed in an effort to protect elderly people from COVID-19.

Citing the risk from coronavirus disease, the Illinois Department on Aging is ordering senior centers to close.

There are 399 centers in Illinois where older people gather to play games, crochet, or have lunch.

It’s a vital way to fight loneliness in a population that’s more susceptible to social isolation.

But that population is also more vulnerable to getting quite ill from COVID-19, which means social isolation is what older people need to stay alive.

“Being able to provide services that help combat social isolation won’t do a whole lot for people if they’re not well,” said Tessa French, a spokeswoman for Senior Services of Central Illinois.

The Illinois Department on Aging says all gathering and meal sites must remain closed indefinitely.

The state is ordering alternative meal strategies — such as letting people pick up a boxed lunch to go, or ramping up meals-on-wheels deliveries.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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