Elderly and errands?

Should the elderly be going outside to run errands? Very practical and important question! Answer is now NO per emergency update by Gavin Newsom 3/15/2020.

Elderly people are at HIGH RISK of developing severe disease, so our community approach is to minimize their exposure wherever possible.

I agree with the CDC recommendation for HIGH RISK individuals who may need to be quarantined at home (or stay home from work, etc.) for an extended period of time: such individuals should have an “adequate” supply of essential items at home:

  • Medications (don’t rely on mail order)
  • Over the counter medications
  • Cleaning supplies, chiefly SOAP
  • HEALTHFUL FOOD (I’m not happy with all the junk/frozen/processed food flying off the shelves)
  • Other goods like toilet paper are important to have on hand, too.. though my local costco shoppers seem to prioritize this over all else..

If you are elderly, it is still important to take care of your physical and emotional well being. Your safety going outside (such as a walk down the street for exercise) depends on many factors, chiefly where you live (population density, pedestrian traffic) and community transmission risk.

The easy answer is living in an urban area without much foot traffic and lots of nature: this represents a LOWER risk for disease transmission. High density city dwellers may benefit from going outside to walk at the LEAST busy times, if possible.

Updated 3/15/2020: per Gavin Newsom’s address, ALL elderly >65yr and individuals at high risk of developing severe disease are to be on HOME ISOLATION

2 thoughts on “Elderly and errands?”

  1. I did not rush out to buy purell or N-95 masks, thinking others had greater need. I am 72, healthy. I am self isolating, but will need to buy food in a week or two. I would like to figure out how to sew some washable surgical masks–high thread count fabric, with inserted HEPA filter (from my vacuum cleaner)??
    Can you wash a HEPA filter?? This would be better than nothing, & remind me not to touch my face.
    Due to industrial exposures, my job required use of PPE/respirators, gloves, & other industrial hygiene practices. I know sewing masks is not your area, wish I knew where to look for intelligent instructions. We elderly could sew masks in our spare time.
    Thanks for posting link to your web page, very clearly written.

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Please note the following:
      1) I would not recommend using a vacuum filter in a home-sewn mask – the materials used in the vacuum filter may not be safe for direct and high-concentration inhalation through a mask. This may cause direct lung injury (including asthma-like reactions). Furthermore, a home-sewn mask may not provide a sufficient seal to protect you from airborne virus (like the problem with surgical masks).
      2) Are you comfortable purchasing food online? If so, you can reduce your risk of exposure by handling deliveries safely (eg wash your hands after handling bags).
      3) If you are in a neighborhood with more quiet, less frequented grocery stores, you may be okay to visit the store off-peak hours and practicing strict hand/face hygiene and social distancing (calling ahead of time may be prudent to check if the store is busy or not).

      I hope this helps!

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