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Older Americans must remain cautious as states reopen businesses

Posted at 2:56 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 10:37:44-04

As more states reopen businesses, experts are advising caution for older Americans.

One doctor emphasizes that there is no substitute for social distancing and hygiene.

“I don't think older people should be safe, feel safe going to restaurants, gym, bars,” said Dr. Joseph Ouslander. “I think they should be very, very careful if they go to a barbershop or a beauty shop.”

Ouslander is a professor of geriatric medicine at Florida Atlantic University and the Executive Editor for the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS).

Ouslander says age isn’t the only factor. Older Americans may be more vulnerable to the virus depending on their living situations or socio-economic status.

The AGS has some key suggestions moving forward for local and federal authorities. It's calling for a reconfigured public health system that includes an expanded workforce, greater attention to the needs of aging Americans, scaled up production of personal protective equipment, and widespread COVID-19 testing.

“Because you can be asymptomatic and have the virus and not know it, and transmit it,” said Ouslander. “The only way to protect older people is to repeatedly test people.

Ouslander says he would also like to see more consistent messaging across governments.

He urges persistence with the measures we know have been helpful so far.