Seniors, who are at elevated risk for contracting COVID-19, are being told to stay away from enclosed spaces.
Recreation centers in the Sun City West community in Arizona are shutting down for at least two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The centers are scheduled to close at 5 p.m. Thursday and will tentatively reopen March 30.
There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the senior community, but its residents are more susceptible to the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended older adults, as well as people with underlying health conditions, stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing.
Bill Schwind, the recreation centers’ general manager, said nearly 100% of the centers’ more than 27,000 members are ages 55 or older, and nearly half are over 75.
“This has been a difficult decision for us, one that we have been weighing for a few weeks now,” Schwind said in a press release. “What it comes down to is, safety has always been our first priority in all that we do, from budgeting decisions to maintenance priorities. With the coronavirus, there are a lot of unknowns, which has made this decision even harder. But what we do know is we have a high-risk population just based on age. Add in all the club rooms and confined spaces where these residents gather, we believe the time has come to mitigate the risks as much as possible.”
Katy O’Grady, the recreation centers’ general services manager, told The Copper Courier they had a general pandemic plan in place when coronavirus diagnoses began. The original plan was to wait until there was a confirmed case in Sun City West to trigger closures, but Arizona’s lack of available tests as well as the residents’ elevated risk led them to take more precaution.
“The potential for spread in an active community like ours just seemed very high,” O’Grady said.
The closures affected more than just the area’s four recreation centers. The sports pavilion, library, village store, and administrative offices will also shut their doors.
Despite having fewer places to go, O’Grady said the residents she’s spoken to don’t seem too worried about being isolated. They can stay in touch on social media, she said. It’s events being canceled that they’re most concerned about.
For example, all of the community’s meetings scheduled for the two-week closure have been called off, and the community’s Spring Fair (March 21) and Easter Egg Hunt (April 11) are canceled. The Spring Fest, which had recently been rescheduled to Sunday due to rain, was also canceled.
There is one place in the community, however, people can continue to socialize: the golf courses. Because they are not considered enclosed spaces, courses and pro shops are staying open for now.
That said, residents are still encouraged to follow the CDC’s guidelines and limit interaction.