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Due to the coronavirus pandemic and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order, the Burke County Senior Center in Morganton and the East Burke Senior Center in Hildebran will remain closed to the public until further notice, according to a memo included in the latest senior center newsletter written by Roxanne Powell, director of Burke County Senior Services, and Amanda Garrison, site manager of the Burke County Senior Center.

“All activities and programs have been suspended until it is safe for those in the high risk category (older than age 65 and those with compromised immune systems) to congregate again,” the memo reads. “The Congregate Nutrition site in Valdese is closed until further notice. We are providing currently registered participants the option to drive by and pickup a hot meal onsite at the Valdese location. Home-delivered meals will continue to be delivered by volunteers/staff as long as possible. At this time, there are no changes to Meals on Wheels for volunteers, (since volunteers are considered essential workers) pending local, state and national advisories.”

Powell said in a previous News Herald article that Meals on Wheels volunteers are taking extra precautions and practicing social distancing while delivering meals to clients.

The centers are unable to take Medicare phone appointments at this time, but the memo advised seniors to contact the toll-free hotline for SHIIP (Seniors Health Insurance Information Program) at 855-408-1212 if they have any questions or concerns about their Medicare coverage.

Staff members will continue to work at the centers and field any questions from seniors. They advised people to check the Burke County Senior Services website at https://bit.ly/3azA8UT or either the “Burke County Senior Center” or “East Burke Senior Center” Facebook pages for any updates. Seniors also may contact the Burke County Senior Center at 828-430-4147 or the East Burke Senior Center at 828-397-3397.

“We are still strong in our dedication to our mission: to advocate for and improve the welfare of older adults in Burke County,” Powell and Garrison wrote in the newsletter. “Even though our senior center is closed, we are here for you.”

Center staff members are offering to call local seniors to check on them once a week if they would like. Those interested in the check-in phone calls may sign up by contacting the Burke County Senior Center at 828-430-4147 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We are compiling a list of folks who may need to hear a friendly voice while staying inside for an extended period of time,” Powell and Garrison said.

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