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Cost of COVID: Crawford County seniors struggle to stay connected during pandemic

The Crawford County Senior Center closed on St. Patrick's Day, separating all of the seniors that went there to socialize

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ga. — Very early on in the pandemic, doctors realized the elderly were more vulnerable to coronavirus. Eight out of every 10 U.S. COVID deaths reported are in adults 65 years and older.

That means a lot of seniors decided to stay home for safety or were subject to shelter-in-place orders.

Through our partnership with Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism, Amyre Makupson shows you how one senior center adjusted to stay connected.

Things are much quieter these days at the Crawford County Senior Center.

"It changed me a lot because I was at home, you know all by myself, all day long and just, you know, not doing nothing too much because I'm 79-years-old,” said Tommie Hunter.

Daily in-person activities were canceled in March following an executive order issued by Gov. Kemp.

“Our last day here was March 17,” said Cricket Jones.

Members of the senior center are now left feeling the void of a place they used to call home.

"A lot of our seniors that came here do not have anyplace else to go and they look so forward to coming here,” said Jones.

“When I can come out here and socialize with the rest of the group… that’s important to me,” said Hunter.

Because of COVID-19, site manager Phyllis Ross says they adjusted by setting up a drive-thru lunch pick-up.

“But this gives me an opportunity to be able to see them, to be able to greet, to have that contact,” said Ross.

She gave seniors packets with 30 days of activities for them to do to keep them connected.

“I want them to know that they're cared for, you know, you get to a certain age and think you're forgotten,” said Ross.

Ross says before the pandemic, they served around 90 seniors each day. Now they see between 10-20. That means about 80% of the seniors who were being served at the senior center are no longer coming.

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