As coronavirus cases climbed over 1,000 in Georgia, two Atlanta neighborhoods have found ways to help seniors and residents vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Capitol View resident Analiese O’Toole is spearheading the neighborhood’s COVID-19 Senior Support group which will run errands for seniors, including picking up their medication and groceries, so that they can stay in their homes and avoid catching the virus.
“I just was thinking of how I can help with this because I’m working from home and this gives me more opportunity to be involved with my community,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
So far, O’Toole and about 10 other volunteers will pick up necessities for older residents — a tall order considering shelves in many grocery stores have been wiped clean of essentials for more than a week in the wake of panic buying.
While O’Toole hasn’t had much success finding her assigned items – toilet paper, bleach and hand sanitizer are among the most depleted in stores – she was able to get the last toilet paper on the shelf during a grocery run Tuesday morning.
“I was pretty excited, but I don’t know when you’re supposed to go to get anything,” O’Toole said of the shopping experience.
So far, 10 volunteers have signed up to help 2,000 residents in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood, O’Toole said. They working to get an accurate count of senior residents.
Volunteers will be trained in how to interact with seniors, such as making sure they’re wearing gloves and keeping the recommended six feet of distance when residents open their doors. Seniors will also be partnered with a volunteer to reduce multiple interactions.
Volunteers will also conduct regular check-ins with their seniors.
“We’re trying to cut down the opportunity to pass infection,” O’Toole said. By noon Tuesday, Georgia surpassed 1,000 cases and had 32 deaths, the state’s public health department reported.
O’Toole plans to have virtual meetings with volunteers and hopes to have the group fully functioning by next week.
In the meantime, O’Toole has been working with Adair Park resident John Sherwood who spearheaded similar efforts to help senior residents in that community prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
Sherwood said Adair Park’s efforts began two years ago as a way to help seniors “age in place.”
But with the recent coronavirus threat, Sherwood said they’ve had to redirect their efforts to help educate seniors on the coronavirus.
“There was a real desire to help keep seniors in their homes,” Sherwood said. “When this (the coronavirus) brewed up we thought: ‘OK now we need to help seniors stay at home.’”
Adair Park residents printed flyers with information about the virus and delivered them to senior residents.
Like O’Toole’s group, they instituted parameters to keep from spreading the virus to seniors, including limiting contact to seniors to one to two assigned volunteers at a time.
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