MILLSTADT, Ill. - The coronavirus is slamming the elderly in the Land of Lincoln. The state of Illinois has ordered senior centers, including the one in Millstadt, closed because of the illness.
Five days a week, Millstadt seniors go to the Millstadt Township Senior Center to play games, eat lunch, and enjoy each other’s company. But the Illinois Department of Aging said it’s too risky and the centers need to close for a while to prevent folks from spreading the virus.
“This is pretty unusual pretty disruptive here,” said Patty Evansco, the executive director of the Millstadt Township Senior Center.
Evansco got the notice Wednesday that her clients cannot come to the senior center for probably two weeks, maybe longer.
“My concern is for the safety and health of my seniors that my top priority so I totally agree with this measure,” she said.
Wednesday night is the last event here for a while. It’s a dinner for many of the volunteers who keep the place running. Folks love the center for its daily meal, games like bingo and quilt making.
“It’s like a family, so I’ll miss it. I’ll miss it greatly,” said one client.
Evansco said she fears some of her approximately 100 clients who are 60 to 100 years old will become lonely.
“They get depressed and the depression will lower their resistance to disease and sickness,” she said.
The state’s order to close was getting mixed reviews.
“I think it’s ridiculous," Betty Schranz said. "Because I think the media plays this thing up really big, and it’s not going to be as big as they think it is.”
Norma Burleson had a different opinion.
“We’re older people and our immune systems are down and if anyone of us gets and it spreads, we’d lose some of our friends, so I have to go along with them,” she said.
Now lunches can be picked up or delivered, and the center will still offer many services like transportation to the supermarket and doctors’ offices, as well as tax preparation.