How the elderly should be prepared for coronavirus

Based on global data for the COVID-19 virus, health officials say seniors are among the most vulnerable population.  Several seniors died in a Washington state nursing home. 

That has many people concerned about making sure precautions are being taken for seniors.

We check with some local senior living facilities, which tell us they have stepped up protocols to prevent any spread of the virus.  One invited us to walk through their protocol, to show you how to check on the care of a senior loved one.

As soon as we entered Belmont Village Senior Living, a kiosk asked if we've traveled to countries with the coronavirus and an attendant offered hand sanitizer. 

Chief Operating Officer Doug Lessard says they'll ask anyone who is sick not to visit, but haven't had to turn anyone away yet.

"We've added a question to that kiosk that asks if any of our visitors have traveled internationally in the last 30 days.  If they answer yes, there's additional screening," said Lessard.

He says they've added extra cleaning routines and cut back on outings and public events.

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"We've canceled a lot of our public events where folks come in from the outside, a lot of larger events," said Lessard.

The Houston Health Department tells us anyone visiting senior citizens should not be sick themselves and should monitor the senior for COVID-19 symptoms.

"The cough, the fever, shortness of breath. That's what you want to look at. Ask them how they feel, if they feel any fever," said HHD spokesperson Porfirio Villarreal.

Although there is no vaccine for COVID-19, the Houston Health Department recommends any senior who hasn't received a flu shot to get one. 

And they recommend that if you're checking on a senior in a care facility, to ask the operators what protocols they're taking.

"Ask the person how often they're cleaning," said Villarreal.  "If they say yes, they came in today two or three times and clean, just ask the person who is receiving the service."

Lessard adds that Belmont Village is stocking up on medical supplies and sanitizer to be safe.

Brookdale Senior Living posted on its website that its facilities are following CDC guidance, including reminding people to get flu vaccines, wash their hands, stay home when sick, and take flu antivirals when prescribed.

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