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CHA cancels bingo, resident meetings to avoid spread of coronavirus

Older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, according to the CDC.

Seniors play pool at a game room of the Caroline Hedger Senior Apartments in Rogers Park.
Provided

The Chicago Housing Authority said Wednesday it is canceling bingo, resident meetings and all other events in community spaces throughout its buildings until further notice to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Of particular concern are the estimated 9,500 seniors living in public housing, as older adults are at higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“CHA’s property management firms at senior buildings have been directed to perform twice-daily cleanings of common areas and doorknobs/handles,” the agency said in response to questions from the Chicago Sun-Times.

The housing agency also said it’s in the process of posting notices in all of its building with information about COVID-19 in multiple languages.

Maria Perez, 79, a tenant at a CHA senior building in Lincoln Park, said she hasn’t seen any announcements about the virus in Spanish, her most comfortable language. “I’ve learned about the virus on TV, but I haven’t heard anything from management,” she said.

Perez said the ban on large gatherings wouldn’t disrupt her everyday life because “to be honest nothing ever goes on here. It’s been a while since they’ve organized any kind of community event.”

In a statement, the Jane Addams Senior Caucus — an activist group with members in several CHA senior buildings, including Perez — called on city government to “release a detailed plan” for protecting seniors from the new coronavirus.

“We are getting the word out as quickly as we can,” CHA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan said. “This is a fast moving situation and like all agencies we are working as diligently as we can to communicate information to residents.”

The World Health Organization said Wednesday the new coronavirus qualifies as a global pandemic. There are more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the world with more than 1,100 in the United States. At least 37 people having died from COVID-19 nationwide.

Health officials reported six new cases of coronavirus in Illinois on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 25. Five of the new cases were in Cook County and included three men above the age of 70 and a woman in her 50s.

Carlos Ballesteros is a corps member of Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of Chicago’s South Side and West Side.