COVID-19 Information for Care Providers

SEAGO Area Agency on Aging cares about keeping senior centers safe and healthy, and information on how to deal with COVID-19 is critical as the situation continues to develop.

On this page, we will share the latest best practice information that senior centers are using to prevent the spread of the virus and keep their participants safe.

The first step for all senior centers is to contact your local public health department for the latest guidance on how to respond in your immediate area. Senior centers also can play an important role in sharing trusted information with older adults.

Thank you for your continued engagement and partnership with us to address and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We highly value our strong ongoing partnership, and hope to continue to be a resource to you as you implement community mitigation techniques. As you might imagine, a number of HHS divisions are releasing COVID-19-related information on funding and guidance. We thought it would be helpful to batch up information on key issues to keep you up-to-date.


Best Practices
Protect yourself and your clients

• Good hand hygiene is essential for infection control. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of the hands and rubbing them together until dry. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Cover coughs and sneezes using a flexed elbow, not hands.

• In-home personal care workers who are ill should stay home until they are free of fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicines or cough suppressants).

• If you are experiencing symptoms of illness such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath and wish to be tested, your healthcare provider will help decide whether you should be tested for COVID-19. Testing for this illness is coordinated between healthcare providers and public health authorities.

• Routine cleaning and disinfection procedures should be used. Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions.

• Employers of in-home personal care workers should provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees. If employers cannot obtain PPE through usual means, they should contact their local (county) public health authority for assistance. Continued communication with case managers of individuals is highly encouraged.

• Masks appear to be useful when they are worn by people who are ill to limit the spread of virus when the ill person coughs or sneezes.

 Place mask carefully to cover mouth and nose securely to minimize gaps between the face and the mask.

 While in use, avoid touching the mask.

o Do not reuse personal protective equipment (PPE). Dispose of masks and any other PPE immediately after use. Immediately after touching or removing PPE and after contact with respiratory secretions, clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

o Limit time together in an enclosed space.

o Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good airflow (e.g., an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting). Consider interacting outdoors if appropriate.

o In-home personal care workers should avoid face-to-face interactions with the client by maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet to the best of their ability.

o Make sure that the client practices good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

o If close contact with an ill person cannot be avoided, follow standard infection prevention practices as recommended by your employer.

• Assist clients to gather resources they would need to stay at home for up to 2 weeks if they become sick or need to minimize contact with others (such as medication refills).

If a client is ill:

o In-home personal care workers in the DHS system should call the client’s case manager to find alternative ways to support them.

o Other in-home personal care workers should postpone non-essential in-home visits with any person that has a cough or fever until symptoms resolve. If possible, increase services provided by phone or online, instead of in person.

o Phone services will not be possible for those providing assistance in the activities of daily living.

• CDC recommendations for people who have close contact in a home setting with a person who has COVID-19 are available here

Funding for States to Address COVID-19

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced upcoming action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide resources to state and local jurisdictions in support of our nation's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The $8.3 billion dollar Supplemental passed by Congress included statutory language which prescribed the exact formula for disbursing the money: states will receive 90% of their 2019 CDC PHEP grants.  This marks the first tranche of funding to states from the $8.3 billion supplemental.  Today, CDC is contacting State Health Officers to move forward with awarding over $560 million to states, localities, territories, and tribes. CDC will use existing networks to reach out to state and local jurisdictions to access this initial funding. To view the list of CDC funding actions to jurisdictions, click here.


Helping Communities Know Mitigation Strategies

Yesterday, CDC released their “Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission.”  Essentially, this is a guide describing possible mitigation strategies for communities dealing with transmission at three different levels: (1) None/Minimal, (2) Moderate, or (3) Substantial.  Community mitigation strategies, which are non-pharmaceutical interventions, are often the most available interventions to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 in communities.  The Mitigation Plan includes a set of actions that persons and communities can take to slow the spread of respiratory virus infections. The Community Mitigation Plan can be found here.


Guidance on Infection Control For Healthcare Workers

Yesterday, CDC released updated guidance on infection prevention and control recommendations. Healthcare workers are fighting this outbreak on the front lines, and this guidance is intended to provide assistance to healthcare settings that are handling suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. This guidance is applicable to all U.S. healthcare settings, but not for non-healthcare settings. There is separate guidance for that. The new guidance on infection control can be found here.


Guidance for Preparing Workplaces

This week, the Department of Labor released practical guidance for how to prepare workplaces for COVID-19. This guidance will help to educate workers and employers about the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance can be found here.


Guidance for Laboratories

The CDC has been actively working to address the need for testing across the country. In addition to public health laboratories, private labs are doing testing. In addition to reviewing the Updated Guidance on Evaluating and Testing Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019, the CDC recently updated the FAQ website for laboratories, and we encourage you to read through the site to answer preliminary questions, though we stand ready to answer other questions that you may have.


Guidance to Prepare Homeless Shelters

We recognize persons experiencing homelessness are an especially vulnerable population. CDC released guidance on March 9, to help homeless shelters plan, prepare and respond to COVID-19. The guidance can be foundhere.


OMB Flexibilities

On March 9, 2020, OMB issued a memo that provides administrative relief for recipients and applicants of Federal financial assistance who are directly impacted by COVID-19. The grant flexibilities include 10 actions that HHS can take to provide short-term administrative and financial management relief, allowing funds to be awarded quicker and giving grantees the ability to focus on their critical response, research, or services. More information can be found here.


General Preparation Information

On March 9, 2020, the White House Coronavirus Task Force released practical steps that we recommend posting and sharing to keep workplaces, school, home and commercial establishments safe. This information can be found here.


The COVID-19 response is a whole-of-government effort and each department has a number of specific resources. We encourage you to explore those resources as necessary to respond to the situation in your communities.