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Opening Senior Centers Cautiously

Belmont County’s 10 senior citizens’ centers are to be reopened, Senior Services Director Dwayne Pielech told county commissioners a few days ago.

Not all the centers will reopen at once, Pielech emphasized. Rigorous procedures will be followed to keep those using the centers safe, he added.

Many older people will applaud the decision to reopen the centers, closed for months due to the epidemic. But we suspect many others will be worried that if they go to their local center, they will be putting themselves at risk from COVID-19.

Indeed there will be at least some risk. These days, going to the grocery store is taking a chance of catching the disease.

Pielech is right that stringent precautions must be put in place at the centers — and followed to the letter. We know older people are more vulnerable than others to the disease. If you doubt that, consider that roughly half of Ohio’s COVID-19 deaths have been at nursing homes.

Plans to reopen the local centers must be approved by Ohio public health officials. Good. They, too, should cut no corners.

Continuing to isolate at home in fear of COVID-19 is not a long-term option. Still, reopening the centers must be done with extreme caution.

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