“It’s basically like you are going be responsible for caring for and taking care of that senior for the duration of this pandemic,” Mayor London Breed (pictured here last month) said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Breed pushes volunteer opportunities to help isolated seniors as coronavirus spreads

Seniors and those living with disabilities are most susceptible to severe impacts of the coronavirus and are advised to remain home.

A day after San Francisco’s stay-at-home order was extended until May 3 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Mayor London Breed announced services to connect volunteers with seniors and people with disabilities to help with buying groceries, medications and other essential needs — including through the use of an app.

Seniors and those living with disabilities are most susceptible to severe impacts of the coronavirus and are advised to remain home. But in order for them to stay home, volunteers are needed to bring them groceries and other needed supplies.

Breed said that people can get matched up with those in need through a program The City launched in partnership with the Shanti Project known as the COVID-19 Emergency Response Volunteer (CERV). The website is at sf.gov/covid19volunteer. Volunteers must be under the age of 60 and in good health. They will receive training.

“It’s basically like you are going be responsible for caring for and taking care of that senior for the duration of this pandemic,” Breed said during a Wednesday press conference. “What is gained from this is not only the ability to do something to help support others but it could be the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.”

She added, “So many of our seniors are living in isolation. They may not have family members who are there and available to them and here is an opportunity for you to help someone who desperately needs help at this time.”

Breed also announced another service to connect volunteers with seniors and those with disabilities through a partnership with a tech startup which created the app Mon Ami.

The app service ordinarily coordinates in-person visits, but that service is now suspended during the pandemic and is instead being used for calling isolated seniors to check-in on them and to coordinate volunteers to run errands for groceries, prescriptions, and other essentials.

Breed said that this service is already operational and “now we are going to expand on the work that they are already doing in order to connect even more seniors to resources.”

Both volunteer partnerships are being overseen by the the Department of Disability and Aging Services, which has expanded its helpline from five days a week to seven days a week for seniors and those with disabilities to call to access city services like food assistance and home care needs. The phone number can also be used to connect with the volunteer help. The helpline is at 415-355-6700 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

DAS has also asked nonprofits under contract to hire up to 200 new home care providers to help older adults and people with disabilities during the stay at home health order, the Mayor’s Office said.

“One in five San Franciscans is over the age of 65 or an adult with disabilities. To safely shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, they will need will need assistance with many of the daily tasks that they used to be able to do on their own,” said Shireen McSpadden, executive director of the Department of Disability and Aging Services.

The respiratory illness caused by coronavirus, COVID-19, has led to the death of seven in San Francisco.

There were a total 434 confirmed coronavirus cases in The City as of Wednesday, 37 more than the previous day. Cases include 10 staff members and two patients at The City’s long-term care facility Laguna Honda Hospital.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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