According to data from San Diego County, as of July 26 Coronado has now had 113 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak. In San Diego county the age group that is most affected by the virus is still 20-29 making up 25.2% of total cases, and the second most affected age group is 30-39 at 19%. The race/ethnicity most affected is Latino at 61% of total cases.
Many of the senior citizens in Coronado are worried about how this virus will affect them. Senior citizens make up about 24% of the adult population in Coronado, according to the 2018 census. I reached out to Dr. Susan Stone, the CEO of Sharp Coronado Hospital, to get updates on how COVID-19 is affecting Coronado, and learn how to better protect our seniors.
What are the facts about how COVID-19 is affecting senior citizens in San Diego County?
As of July 26, people over the age of 60 make up about 16.6% of total cases. Stone explained, “Seniors often have underlying chronic health conditions such as heart or lung disease or diabetes that may make them more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. These chronic conditions result in greater risk of hospitalization, intensive care, and ventilator support along with an increased risk of death.”
She also mentioned that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that eight out of ten COVID-19 related deaths in the United States have been in adults aged 65 and older.
This information may cause anxiety in some, but there are plenty of things that senior citizens can do to protect themselves, and that others can do to protect them.
The best thing that seniors can do to protect themselves, according to Stone, is to follow the stay at home philosophy and avoid interacting with other people as much as possible. If they do need to leave their house, there are a number of precautions they should take. Make sure to keep 6 feet away from others, and wear a face covering. They should also wash their hands often, or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. It’s also a good idea to frequently disinfect commonly touched surfaces. Seniors can also look for stores that are offering “senior hours.” For example, Vons on Orange Avenue has set aside the time period of 6 to 7 a.m. for seniors and other at-risk groups of people to do their shopping.
“The best way to protect our seniors is to avoid being exposed to the virus ourselves and avoid exposing others to the virus,” said Stone.
She enforced the fact that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets between people within six feet of each other. “Because there is recent evidence that individuals may spread the virus even if they are not showing signs and symptoms of illness, we can protect our community and our senior citizens by using face coverings, maintaining 6 feet social distancing, frequently washing your hands and/or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering coughs and sneezes, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces with a soap and water or common EPA registered household disinfectants,” added Stone.
Stone also thought it was important for people to know that they should not delay seeking medical care.
At Sharp Coronado Hospital, Stone explained, “We are taking extra precautions to ensure everyone’s safety including a dedicated care area in the Emergency Room and a dedicated COVID Care unit in the hospital. We have also implemented special check-in procedures to reduce face-to-face interactions, health screenings at facility entrances for all patients, doctors and staff, free medication delivery from the Coronado Community Pharmacy, and regular cleaning of facilities, equipment, including high-tech disinfecting robots.”