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South Bay Senior Center Takes Steps To Protect Residents From Coronavirus

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Senior centers and communities throughout Santa Clara County are taking tough new measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus through especially vulnerable, elderly populations.

"I'm very concerned. I mean I'm trying to do my part," says 93-year-old Virginia Rolls who lives in The Villages, an independent senior living community tucked away in San Jose's Evergreen foothills.

senior Virginia Rolls (CBS)
Rolls still drives and uses a walker to get around, but says it's just common sense for older people to avoid large gatherings during the outbreak. (CBS)

"I don't think we should. We should be careful. We shouldn't leave the decision up to somebody else," Rolls said.

Public health officials say older people and people with other underlying health conditions are more likely to be severely impacted by the coronavirus. In Santa Clara County, health officials announced drastic new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, including banning public gatherings with more than a thousand people in attendance.

At senior centers, in-person lunch programs have been cancelled as have exercise classes, activities and community meetings.

"I was a little surprised when I started seeing meetings cancelled. And then I started watching the news a little more intently. And then I was appreciative that we were preemptive on the meeting cancellations," said John Stratakos, a resident of The Villages.

The Villages announced that its cleaning staff would step up the disinfecting of surfaces in common areas. And while they have not outright cancelled all activities, they have relaxed their refund policy if residents want to pull out of a planned excursion.

Some seniors expressed surprise over events they anticipated might be cancelled like a charter bus trip to Pt.Reyes Monday that were allowed to continue.

"There was a lady in the back of the bus who was doing a lot coughing. It just made me uneasy," said Villages resident Frank Houghton.

General Manager Tim Sutherland said the Villages is complying with all guidelines from the county health department and allowing their residents to use their judgment and discretion about which events to attend.

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