As COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, has swept through the world, people all over the globe have seen their lives change in unexpected ways. The United States is no exception, with much of the country spending months in quarantine and only essential workers leaving their homes for anything more than a quick stop at the grocery store. As infection rates begin to drop in certain areas, however, the time to begin the complicated task of reopening the country has arrived. What exactly does this mean for your loved ones in Melbourne, FL, and how can you ensure the health and safety of the senior adults in your life?
Phases of Reopening
Not everything will return to “normal” immediately simply because the Space Coast is attempting to reopen. In order to limit the number of individuals exposed to the virus as businesses begin to resume normal operating procedures, the reopening process will take place over three stages.
Phase one of the reopening process in Melbourne, FL, isn’t all that different from shelter-in-place guidelines. Non-essential travel should continue to be minimized and gathering in groups of people should be avoided. Additionally, individuals vulnerable to the virus, including senior adults, should continue to remain home and shelter in place. Similarly, anyone who lives with a vulnerable individual should continue to work remotely to avoid exposing them to the virus.
Phase two of the reopening process is fairly significant. Organized youth activities and schools should reopen, small social gatherings are allowed as long as social distancing is observed, large venues, including movie theaters, sit-down dining, and sporting venues, can reopen following certain physical distancing protocols. More of the population will begin to reintegrate into their new “normal” daily lives during this phase, however vulnerable individuals should continue to stay at home and shelter in place. Anyone living with a vulnerable individual on the Space Coast should continue to work remotely if at all possible.
Phase three of the reopening process sees society return to normal, with staffing restrictions gone and social distancing guidelines encouraged, but not as vital. During phase three, vulnerable individuals may resume public interactions, however they should maintain social distancing and avoid large social gatherings.
What Does This Mean for Senior Adults?
We know what the phases of reopening, but how do they impact senior adults? The truth is that in order to ensure their health, senior adults should continue to minimize their public interactions as much as possible even during phase three. The virus will not disappear – fewer people will be ill, of course, but the risk of infection will still be present. For this reason, it is vital that vulnerable individuals continue following social distancing rules and avoid unnecessary social encounters, especially in crowded establishments.
Note that this doesn’t mean senior adults should be isolated from the world. Phase three indicates the number of cases of new infections in a state has slowed and remained at a consistent decline despite reopening much of the state’s businesses and social venues. It is likely safe enough to engage with others as long as care is taken to practice good hygiene and limit contact with individuals who spend a lot of time out of their homes. Visits to nursing homes may resume during phase three, too, as long as visitors are very careful about their hygiene and social distancing, though it is likely new guidelines will be added to avoid exposing the most vulnerable to the virus.
The bottom line is that while states are cautiously reopening, the most effective way to ensure the health and safety of senior adults is to continue sheltering in place, through phase three. This will give vulnerable individuals the best chance at returning to normal interactions with others without putting themselves at unnecessary risk.