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Protecting vulnerable populations during COVID-19

Why the precautionary measures are so important
Protecting the vulnerable populations during COVID-19
Posted at 11:47 PM, Mar 19, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — The big picture behind many of the precautionary measures related to COVID-19 are to protect people who are more at risk of complications if they are exposed to the virus. News5 spoke with people representing three different groups, which are people with disabilities, those going through cancer treatment, and elderly people, about why it is so important to take the precautions seriously.

Sara Lloyd and her family have been spending more time inside than normal, practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, Lloyd and her family have to be especially careful, because her 19-year-old daughter Julie has a handful of disabilities. Some of those are autoimmune related. "Her body works against itself, so that makes her more vulnerable to certain infections and it takes her longer to get over certain things," said Lloyd.

Lloyd said she keeps Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in her home at all times, but she said it was more difficult to secure the supplies they needed for Julie in this time of high demand. "People feed off of other people's hysteria and panic, and it spreads just like a virus," said Lloyd.

Her daughter is one of the reasons Lloyd said everyone ought to respect the CDC's guidelines, which emphasize staying home as much as possible, and keeping at least six feet of distance in between people. "This is about basic common human decency of trying to be cautious for everybody... Even if you're young and you don't have preexisting health conditions, you could transfer something to someone and that could cause them to grow gravely ill," said Lloyd.

Samantha Russell lives in the Las Vegas area, but said this same concept applies to everyone. Russell was just diagnosed last week with cervical cancer for the third time in four years. She said her low white blood cell count makes the novel coronavirus especially dangerous. "I'm about to go back into treatment, and my body will be essentially broken down again, just at a chance for my life, and all I'm asking is for people to think about how their actions could affect my chances of living... You may not be aware that you're carrying this virus," said Russell.

Another vulnerable population are people ages 60 and older. News5 spoke with the Director of the Pikes Peak Area Council on Aging, Jody Barker, who said while it's especially important for elderly individuals to avoid human contact as much as possible right now, isolating someone can take a toll on the person mentally. "The Older Americans Act, through which we receive most of our funding, as well as the Older Coloradans Act, were originally designed to decrease social isolation, but now we're telling our seniors to stay home," said Barker.

Barker said that's why now is a critical time to make sure seniors have the connections they need to stay afloat during self-isolation. "What we're recommending for our seniors to do, because all the senior centers and YMCA's are now closed and those are huge social gatherings for our older adults, is to take advantage of any kind of phone list that they might have had. This is a good opportunity to call friends and family," said Barker.

Barker also said a way to help during this time is through volunteering, food donations, or monetary donations. The Pikes Peak Area Council on Aging works with several different services in the community, and you can learn more about how you can help by visiting their website.

Sara Lloyd and her family are related to the digital director here at KOAA News5.