Riverhead Town wants its senior residents to stay home to avoid exposure to the coronavirus. Working with local merchants, the town is offering contactless home delivery of essentials to seniors.
Stock photo: Adobe

Riverhead Town wants its senior residents to stay home and avoid exposure the the novel coronavirus, which is much more dangerous to older people.

The town is starting a home-delivery program for seniors age 60 and older, to provide delivery of essentials to seniors, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar announced Monday night.

The idea of the “Riverhead SAFE” — Senior Assistance for Essentials — program is to provide delivery of essential items to senior residents so they won’t need to leave the safety of their own home and risk exposure to the coronavirus.

Prepaid items will be picked up and delivered by the town at no cost.

“Riverhead Town’s senior citizen population needs our support during this difficult time and we are exploring avenues for enhancing our ‘meals on wheels’ program,” Aguiar said.

The “meals on wheels” program traditionally provides cooked meals to homebound seniors. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, it was serving about 110 people daily. That has increased to about 160 a day, Aguiar said in an interview Monday night.

The town also served lunch to seniors on weekdays at its senior center on Shade Tree Lane in Aquebogue. After the coronavirus outbreak, the town stopped serving lunch in-house and began instead to offer curbside pickup of lunch-to-go. It discontinued the curbside service after about a week, when the supervisor extended and updated her initial emergency declaration. The “meals on wheels” program continues.

“We are aiming to have the Riverhead SAFE program and additional details in place by the end of the week,” the supervisor said.

Riverhead residents over age 60 who wish to utilize the service may pre-register online, or by calling (631) 727-3200 ext. 211 or by email to the SAFE program.

Merchants willing to participate in this program are asked to register on the town’s website.

To participate, merchants must be willing to accept an order by phone, accept payment by credit card over the phone and call Riverhead Town Hall to let them know an order is ready for pick-up.

A list of participating merchants will be available soon, the supervisor said.

COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease, poses a particular risk to older adults, 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The highly contagious virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Scientists say it can live on certain surfaces for up to two or three days.

It’s especially important for older adults to stay home to avoid exposure to the virus, according to the CDC. For more information, see the CDC website.

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