Risks of reopening for the elderly in South Florida

On June 5, Florida entered phase 2 of reopening, and many people have gone back to work, which could pose a risk to older people living with them.

The elderly are the most at-risk age demographic for getting a severe case of COVID-19. Considering that a record 64 million Americans live in multi-generational households, there are a lot of older people at risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

During reopening, simply keeping six feet apart is not enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The virus is highly contagious and spreads easily through the air. It can also be brought into homes on clothing, delivery packages, and groceries, said Dr. Joaquin Gomez, a Miami pediatrician.

“Elderly people are the most at-risk group as some of them have cardiac issues and weakened immune systems,” he said.

Gomez mentioned several ways people can prevent bringing the virus into their homes after work.

“Make sure to always use masks when going outside,” he said. “When arriving back home, people should take off their shoes and put on a second pair they can keep in their car. They should disinfect the pair they used to go to work thoroughly. People should also have a spare change of clothes in their garage to change into and put the clothes they wore at work in a plastic bag to wash.”

Dr. Gomez also stressed the importance of showering immediately after work.

“After changing clothes, the first thing anyone should do upon arriving at their house is go immediately to the shower to wash off all the germs from work,” he said.

Multigenerational households are not the only ones who have to be careful. Caregivers working in homes of the elderly also have to be careful not to track the virus into their workplaces.

Arturo Munder, the owner of Munder Group Homes in Miami, Florida, said that his staff disinfects the group homes at all times. They also maintain social distancing among the residents.

This pandemic has caused older people to change their lives drastically in order to protect themselves. Dulce Perez, a 72-year-old woman in Miami, used to live half of the time with her sister and the other half with a younger family member. She has recently only lived with her sister.

“Ever since quarantine, I have only been going out once a week with my mask and gloves for groceries,” said Dulce Perez. “I used to visit my family daily but now we are only able to communicate through FaceTime.”

Christopher Gomez a student at FIU majoring in Communications studying Journalism. He enjoys cooking and photography in his free time.