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Senior Center ‘staying the course’ on reopening as COVID-19 cases surge

With COVID-19 case counts surging locally, Supervisor Deb Bauer announced Friday that the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center is temporarily halting progress toward a complete reopening.

The facility will still be open, albeit in a limited capacity.

“It was our goal to begin a full and unrestricted reopening (called Phase 3 in our plan) in made to late August,” Bauer wrote. “Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to do so.

“It has been recommended to our facility to ‘stay the course’ and not continue to the Phase 3 level. Therefore, the GMHSC is going to have to continue to limit attendance, limit classes, and limit numbers that can attend the senior center for the near future.”

The seven-day average COVID-19 case rate in Beaufort County is 21.3. The county has recorded 524 cases since June 1; the date the health department uses to mark the start of the Delta variant’s spread locally.

County health officials knew of 280 active COVID-19 cases among Beaufort County residents as of Friday. Five of those individuals are hospitalized, and two are on a ventilator.

Unvaccinated individuals have accounted for 88% of Beaufort County’s COVID-19 cases. The county has recorded 62 breakthrough cases, which happens when someone tests positive after being fully vaccinated.

Almost half of the county’s entire population has been at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19. The partial vaccination rate for the county’s adult population is nearing 60%.

As for seniors, 83% of Beaufort County residents ages 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

“If the area of the building, support group you like, ore the class you currently attend have already been meeting in phase 2 of the reopening plan, they will continue to do so,” Bauer wrote. “Also, our walk-in areas of the facility (fitness room, billiards room, media room, computer lab, bistro lounge) will continue to be open and available by registration, which we highly encourage you make.”

Bauer said the Senior Center shared a calendar of activities for August and September in a recent newsletter; that calendar is now voided. She said seniors should contact the center to hear about upcoming activities.

“In the end, things are actually looking up,” Bauer said. “The decision to “stay the course” allows us to restart outdoor activities (as weather permits) such as parking lot bingo, continue to offer “golden ticket” meals for GMHSC attendees on random days, and we are absolutely planning on the ‘Fall Festival’ which will only be held outdoors — and hopefully mother nature will cooperate.”