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Carroll County shutters senior centers to reduce risk of coronavirus spread, though no cases found

Carroll County’s five senior centers closed at 11:30 Thursday morning after being directed by the state to do so as a precautionary measure designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus also know by the disease it causes, COVID-19.

Celene Steckel, director of citizen services, and Jeff Degitz, director of recreation and parks, made the announcement just before noon at the Board of County Commissioners meeting Thursday.

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“This closure is the result of an order from the state of Maryland as a precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19," Steckel said.

Although there have been no cases of the coronavirus found in Carroll County as of Thursday, Steckel said the health and safety of senior citizens is a priority. A total of 12 cases have so far been confirmed in the state.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced a number of sweeping directives Thursday, including closures of senior centers and schools.

As a result, all activities associated with the Carroll senior centers, including those conducted by outside groups or the county Department of Recreation and Parks, have been canceled, Steckel said.

However, Steckel said in an email Thursday evening that staff at the senior centers will continue working through phone and email, calling senior center members “periodically during the center closure to assess if the members have access to food, an adequate supply of medications or any other emergent needs.”

She reiterated that the Bureau of Aging and Disabilities office, at 125 Stoner Ave. in Westminster, remains open. Anyone with senior citizen needs can call the office at 410-386-3800.

“Older adults remain a priority for us and we will continue to serve them, just in a different way during the center closure," Steckel said in the email. “Members were offered shelf stable emergency meal kits prior to the center closures.”

She also said center staff are prepared to provide access to food for any senior center members who report an inability to get food.

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Anyone who thinks they or a family member might be showing coronavirus symptoms can call the health department’s has a COVID-19 hotline, which is available 8 am. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 410-876-4848, or contact their doctor. Those calling outside those hours can leave a message or call the Maryland 211 line.

Hogan announced Thursday that one of those Prince George’s County cases is the first example of community transmission of the virus in Maryland. The patient, the governor tweeted, “had no known exposure to coronavirus through travel or an infected individual.”

Updates on the number of Maryland cases and other important information can be found on the health department’s COVID-19 webpage at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19/.

As of Thursday morning the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization deemed a pandemic Wednesday, had resulted in 40 deaths in the United States out of almost 1,600 people who had tested positive for the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.



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