Keeping seniors safe

Earlier this fall, Belmont County officials had hoped to reopen their network of 10 senior citizens’ centers after months of closure due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Last week, they concluded that would not be the responsible course of action.

The centers are important to older people for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they are places to gather and socialize.

The centers, located in communities such as Barnesville, Bethesda, Flushing, Centerville and others across the county, offer daily meals when they are in operation, and they give seniors the chance to complete craft projects, catch up news about their friends, learn about other community events and activities and see people who are paying close attention to their state of mind and overall well-being.

Those facilities also make a habit of observing holidays and important occasions with events such as Christmas parties and organizing card showers for members’ birthdays.

With the centers closed months ago in the interest of safety during the pandemic, county officials already have taken several steps to ensure the men and women who rely on the centers for nutritious meals can still get them.

More than 1,100 meals each day are being delivered to senior citizens in Belmont County. And county leaders are now working toward expanding and upgrading the kitchen that supplies those meals with money that was already available in the budget without increasing taxes.

Reopening the centers might have put many of those using them at risk of contracting COVID-19.

As county Senior Services Director Dwayne Pielech said this week, “the issues are insurmountable” in keeping the centers safe.

For that reason, the centers will remain closed through the winter.

No doubt that comes as a disappointment to many people — but it was the right thing to do.

Keeping vulnerable seniors safe needs to be the top priority.


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