On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” Since then, state, federal, and local governments have enacted states of emergency and other actions to deal with the crisis.
Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. Again, older adults are at a much higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 than the general public. Individuals with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are also at a much higher risk.
AAASWFL Changes and Cancellations
SHINE Counseling and Presentations
To encourage social distancing and to ensure the safety of our clients and counselors, all SHINE Medicare counseling sessions will be conducted via telephone until further notice. To make an appointment for a phone counseling session, call the Elder Helpline at 866-41-ELDER (866-413-5337).
In addition, the following SHINE Medicare presentations in March have been postponed:
- Medicare: What’s New in 2020 at the Punta Gorda Library in Punta Gorda (March 17)
- Medicare 101 at the Englewood Charlotte Library in Englewood (March 20)
- Medicare 101 at the North Fort Myers Public Library in North Fort Myers (March 26)
- Medicare 101 at the Clewiston Public Library in Clewiston (March 28)
- If You See It, Report It! Senior Medicare Patrol presentation at the Wm. H. Jervey Public Library in Venice. (March 31)
We will make a decision about April events in the coming weeks, under the advisement of local public health agencies. Visit our events calendar to find upcoming and rescheduled events.
Health and Wellness Workshops
Effective March 16, 2020, the Area Agency on Aging has postponed all of its current Health & Wellness workshops, including:
- Tai Chi: Moving For Better Balance at Peace Lutheran Church in Fort Myers
- Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance at Lake Kennedy Senior Center in Cape Coral
- Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention at the LJ Nobles Senior Center in LaBelle
- Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention at the North Collier Regional Park in Naples
- Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention at Cypress Lake Manor South in Fort Myers
- Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program at Buttonwood Village in Punta Gorda
- Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program at Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center in Fort Myers
- Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program at Iona-Hope Episcopal Church in Fort Myers
- Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program at the Senior Friendship Center in Arcadia
- Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program at Lake Kennedy Senior Center in Cape Coral
We will reschedule/continue these programs once it is prudent to do so.
Events at the AAASWFL Office
Because our clients are at high risk of developing complications from exposure to COVID-19, it is essential that we keep our staff and clients safe and minimize potential spread. Individuals who have traveled internationally, on a cruise, or who have any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days are asked not to enter our facility. Those who have been in direct contact with individuals who meet these criteria are also asked not to enter our facility.
The April AARP Smart Driver course at the Area Agency on Aging has been cancelled.
The March 20 meeting of the AAASWFL Advisory Council has been cancelled.
Protecting Yourself from COVID-19
Note: For up-to-date, reliable information on COVID-19, please only trust information from the Florida Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
While much is still unknown about this relatively new illness, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself. Diligent handwashing is one of the most effective methods. Wash your hands in hot water with soap for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If you cannot wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
In addition, you should also avoid touching your face, and make sure to cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. If you feel sick, stay home. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. The use of facemasks is not necessary for people who are not ill.
People who are at high risk, including older adults and people with underlying health conditions, should take additional precautions. These include limiting contact with others, especially those who may be sick, and avoiding large crowds. Avoid touching high-touch surfaces like door handles, handrails, or shaking hands with others. If you need to touch these types of surfaces, wash your hands as soon as possible.
Ask your doctor about getting extra medications to have on hand in case you need to stay at home for a prolonged period.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms, contact your doctor. More severe cases may also develop emergency warning signs like persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. People with these symptoms need to get medical attention immediately.
What To Do If You Are Sick
If you think you may have COVID-19, call ahead before you visit your doctor, clinic, or hospital. Healthcare providers need to take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. If you are sick, you should wear a face mask to keep others from getting exposed. You should not take public transportation if you believe you have COVID-19.
Your health care professional can test you for COVID-19. At this time, the test is only available to those who have a prescription from their doctor. If you have Medicare Part B, this test is covered, as long as your doctor or other health care provider has ordered the test.