EVART — Osceola County Commission on Aging director, Justin Halladay posted a notice on the organization's Facebook page informing the public of the steps the organization is taking to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

"We want you to know that your health, and that of our staff and volunteers, is of the utmost importance to us and we have been taking this threat very seriously," Halladay said. "We have developed plans and trained our staff and volunteers to protect all of us while still maintaining those core services so crucial to the health and welfare of our seniors."

Halladay said no services are being affected at this time, but because the population they serve is more vulnerable, the organization is taking extra precautions to help mitigate the danger of contracting the virus.

Some changes that will be implemented immediately include the following:

• Staff will be asking visitors about recent illnesses and any recent travel by them or others in their household;

• If there has been a recent illness, staff will ask that you maintain a safe distance to avoid passing germs to others;

• Meal sites will be equipped with additional hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and tissues to help contain the spread of germs and viruses;

• Information about proactive measures to prevent the spread of germs will be posted at the sites;

Possible changes that may be implemented in the future include limiting days for hot meal delivery, and instead offering frozen or shelf stable meals on those days when hot meals are not available.

In-home service staff may call in advance of traveling to your home to inquire about your health and support available. If there has been a recent illness, or if staff is unavailable, in-home services may not be available. In that case, staff will call to check in.

Transportation services may be limited to those who require medical services such as dialysis or chemotherapy. To protect those with compromised immune systems, alternative transportation services may be arranged for anyone that is sick.

Caseworkers may begin phone assessments instead of in-person visits.

Meal sites may need to be closed at some point, if the health agencies recommend it. In that case, meal delivery can be set up by calling the COA office at 231-743-5559.

Halladay said they are closely monitoring the information being shared by the Center for Disease Control and the Central Michigan Health Department, as well as other health authorities, and will continue to incorporate their advice into the prevention and response plan as needed.

"It is our hope that healthcare professionals will find a way to end this epidemic," Halladay said. "In the meantime we will continue to provide support and resources to Osceola County seniors in a safe and caring manner."