ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OH (WTRF) — The Belmont County Board of Commissioners met today to discuss the question of whether to reopen the county’s ten senior centers which have been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a board, we are making every effort to reopen as many senior centers as possible but must be able to keep the seniors safe while meeting the stringent guidelines set forth by the State of Ohio,” said Commission President J.P. Dutton.
Dutton said the process will be “rigorous.”
“Many seniors are anxious to socialize and get out of the house and we totally understand this, but with the state rules, any senior center that reopens will be operated much differently than anything we did in the past before the virus,” said Meyer.
Commissioner Jerry Echemann, on behalf of the board, said he participated recently in a State of Ohio Department of Health and Department of Aging webinar on reopening centers.
“There are many mandates and restrictions to open any centers, including testing all staff and participants,” Echemann said.
The commissioners and the Senior Services of Belmont County staff are in the process of adopting a plan to open senior centers, including establishing some of the following protocols:
- Submit an approved plan to the State of Ohio
- Identify who will test all staff and participants
- Establish a testing location and transmittal plan
- Communicate the rules to the seniors
- Gather medical insurance information
- Identify which centers might open first
- Sanitize the facilities
- Coordinate a restrictive transportation plan
- Upgrade the centers to meet the social distancing rules
- Establish the do’s and don’t’s in the centers
- Signage and physical facility upgrade
- And many other activities
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