Safety measures, limited visitation to protect residents at Valley senior centers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- One thing infectious disease experts know about the novel coronavirus is that it's deadliest by far among people with compromised health and senior citizens.

Gov. Gavin Newsom held a briefing Tuesday afternoon to update us on the situation in California.

He says the state has confirmed 24 new cases today, up to 157 total.

They're monitoring about 1,500 people from cruise ships and more than 10,000 people who flew to California from hot zones.

Older people are the most important to monitor, so we got a snapshot of a few different approaches to keeping them safe.

The coronavirus is considered the greatest threat to senior living centers in a long time.

So Tuesday, the American Health Care Association -- the AHCA -- took the dramatic step of asking people not to visit their vulnerable loved ones.

"The grim reality is that for the elderly COVID-19 is almost a perfect killing machine," said Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of AHCA, which is a lobbying group for senior living centers. "In our facilities, the average age is 84 and everyone has underlying medical conditions."

We visited several senior living centers in the Central Valley, where the coronavirus hasn't made its harshest impact.

None of their administrators wanted to do an interview, but we could see some of the precautions they took.

Hand sanitizer was prominently placed at the entrance of Sunrise in northeast Fresno.

A letter to family members of people at The Vineyards at the California Armenian Home said they have a full-time infection preventionist on staff, but they're discouraging visits from people who've felt any symptoms similar to the flu.

The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens is also opening its doors only partway.

"As we continue to focus on the well-being of our community and preventing any impact of the coronavirus, we are limiting outside guests from visiting our community," their statement said.

Government officials on the president's response team are also recommending social distancing.

"I would encourage any individual who is elderly or is medically fragile to think long and hard about going into any large gathering that would involve close quarters and potential spread," said Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar.

The CDC's director said Tuesday the main danger of coronavirus at the moment is that new patients could overwhelm hospitals, which are already almost completely full with flu patients.

Forty-five of 50 states have high influenza activity this week.
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