June 24, 2020 – COVID-19 Update

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June 24, 2020

I’d like to start this update by saying thank you. Those simple words seem so inadequate, which is why I wish you could see the gratitude in my heart. All of us at Meals On Wheels are so incredibly thankful for your commitment to our mission and for your selfless service to those in need. I feel like a proud mom bragging on her kids. You all are just amazing!

Each week we participate on a call with our elected officials and Tarrant County Public Health to discuss the latest statistics with the COVID-19 pandemic. The current health crisis should be of concern for every person in the community. Tarrant County is the third largest county in the state and as such is recording record levels of new COVID-19 infections.

Tarrant County just recorded its highest week of infections, with 706 new cases in just the past 48 hours! Not only is this virus not going away any time soon, it’s again increasing at an alarming rate. Our public health officials are quick to point to the lack of proper social distancing and people not wearing face masks as the primary reasons for this alarming increase in new cases.

As most of you know, our building is still on restricted access and we continue to do entry screenings for staff members and guests. Given the current situation, I want to take a moment to remind everyone of the proper protocol for delivering meals and interacting with our clients and other volunteers.

Proper Hygiene
It is so important to continue to practice good personal hygiene, washing or sanitizing your hands throughout the day, especially before eating and always before and after interactions with our clients. If you need more hand sanitizer or a face mask, please call your scheduler and we’ll put some in the cooler for you.

Stay Home if You Are Sick
If you don’t feel well or have a temperature of 99.6 or higher, please stay home. If you are unwell or unable to run your route, please call your scheduler and we will find a substitute driver for your route.

Face Masks
As you know, this has become a political hot button and people feel strongly about wearing or not wearing masks in public. Although Dallas County is now requiring businesses to enforce the wearing of masks, our State lawmakers and Tarrant County officials are not requiring Tarrant County residents to wear masks at this time. That said, the Tarrant County Public Health Director insists that properly wearing a face mask (covering your nose and mouth) is one of the best ways to protect yourself against infection and ensure you are not unknowingly spreading the virus to others.  Consequently, we are asking all volunteers to be diligent in wearing masks around our clients. Please remember that most of them are in a high-risk category, so we want to take extra precautions to keep them safe.

Remember, these are one-time-use masks and must be discarded at the end of your meal-delivery shift. The Tarrant County Director of Public Health reminded us that homemade cloth masks and bandanas will stop the droplets that cause the airborne transmission of the virus. If you decide to wear a cloth mask or bandana, please remember to wash it on a daily basis.

Meal Distribution Sites
As a rule, we are asking volunteers to practice social distancing. Be sure that you are maintaining a distance of 6’ between yourself and others. At some of our smaller distribution sites, it is nearly impossible to properly social distance, so we have implemented a One In – One Out policy. Larger sites likely have plenty of space, so we will allow multiple people in at a time as long as social distancing guidelines are being observed. Always defer to the rules at the site because some sites are more restrictive than our general policy. For instance, a church might have a strict policy in place for their building. Since we are guests in their building, we must abide by their wishes. The site volunteer should be able to answer any questions regarding your access to the meal distribution site.

Plastic Bags and Meal Hand Off
Even though a client answers the door, many of them will struggle to hold the meal(s) and beverages while using a walker or other mobility aid. To assist these clients, we are placing plastic bags in each cooler. Feel free to take enough bags for your route.  Once you arrive at the client’s home, put the meal in the bag, knock on the door, and hand the bag to the client with outstretched arms (ensuring you maintain a distance of 6′ between you and the client). You may also ask clients to step back 6′ after they answer the door and then place the bag on a TV tray or small chair just inside the door (do not enter the home). If the client has not placed a TV tray or small chair just inside the door, you may ask the client to step back and then reach around and hang the bag on the inside doorknob without entering the home.

Meal Delivery
Do Not Enter the Client’s Home — until this crisis has passed, we are asking our volunteers not to enter a client’s home. This is for your safety and the safety of our clients. We understand the mobility challenges faced by many of our clients. Some clients are accustomed to yelling out “come in” when they hear you knock on their door. For now, clients are being told they must answer the door or they will not receive a meal for that day. If you come across a client who does not answer the door, call it in as a “no answer” and we will follow up with the client.

Clients have been asked to place a small chair or TV tray just inside their door so that you can set down the meal. Although we are asking you not to enter the client’s home, you are encouraged to reach your arm through the doorway and set the meal down on the chair or TV tray. After the client answers the door, please ask him or her to step back six feet to maintain a safe distance between the two of you. If the client’s small chair or TV tray is too far from the door for you to reach without entering the home, please ask the client to move it closer to the door.

We have had quite a few clients calling to say that volunteers are leaving the meals on the ground and they are unable to bend over and pick them up. Please do not leave the meals on the ground. We have provided enough plastic bags for every meal so that you can hang the meal on the inside doorknob if the client does not have a table or chair by their front door. Please keep the physical limitations of our clients in mind.

We know that some of our clients are physically unable to come to the door, so we need your help in identifying these clients.  If you have someone on your route who physically cannot come to the door, please notify us by calling our main number at 817-336-0912. We will make special arrangements to care for those individuals.

I don’t know what the next few months holds for us, but 2020 seems determined to make our lives as challenging as possible. I understand how helpless many of us feel during this pandemic. It appears as if things will get worse before they get better, but we WILL get through this. As always, THANK YOU for your commitment to our mission and for going the extra mile for our clients. We simply could not care for them without you by our side.
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