As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase in Florida, the higher risk of severe illness for older people presents a special challenge for Sumter County.
As of Wednesday, it has no reported cases of coronavirus, but the county health department says that’s likely to change.
The department is urging residents — including many in The Villages retirement community — to practice social distancing.
With a median age of almost 68, Sumter County has the oldest population, not just in Florida, but among all US counties of at least 20-thousand people.
Its seniors with serious health conditions are advised to avoid large social events, especially indoor crowds.
Assistant County Administrator Stephen Kennedy says the idea is not to keep people from their activities.
“It’s really about ensuring that folks are aware of what the risks are, that they’re using good handwashing, good sanitizing, maintaining a six-foot distance around themselves, good proper social distancing,” he said.
Kennedy says there are continual meetings involving the health department, medical facilities, nursing homes and schools. He says the demand for resources will become clear when someone tests positive.
“Then we’ll address that and see if it’s localized or if this is more of a community outbreak scenario. “And depending on what that is, we’ll re-evaluate and see if we have the resources locally or if we need to lean more towards our surrounding communities and ask for support or even potentially ask the state for support.”