Seniors are among the most vulnerable in COVID-19 outbreak, and Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston has decided to do something about it. Per an announcement Wednesday, the organization—through its Meals on Wheels program—will be providing emergency kits with a week’s worth of shelf-stable food to 4,300-plus homebound seniors. 

Interfaith Ministries typically distributes this emergency food supply to homebound seniors at the start of hurricane season in May through a project called Operation Impact. However, because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the organization decided to move up distribution of 21,500 meals to March.

“In case the virus impacts our deliveries, our seniors will access to emergency food now that they can also use during hurricane season if needed,” writes Maria Magee, Interfaith Ministries's chief development officer, in an email. 

The plan is for Meals on Wheels to start delivering the emergency food kits this week or early next, but due to the accelerated timeframe, the organization only has $20,000 raised of the $60,000 needed to carry out this project.

In the announcement to social media Wednesday, Interfaith Ministries asked for the community’s help in raising the rest of the money. According to Magee, one couple has offered to raise the first $10,000, but others can make a donation online at this link or by mailing a check to 3303 Main St., Houston, TX 77002. If you do decide to mail a check, be sure to write “Impact” in the memo.

One of the reasons COVID-19 is so dangerous is that this virus has never been seen before, so people don’t have any immunity built up against it, and there aren’t any vaccines available. Several companies are working to develop a vaccine, including Moderna Inc, which is working with the National Institutes of Health and plans to begin human trials for their vaccine this month. However, ensuring a new vaccine won’t do more harm than good takes time, so it’s likely we won’t see a vaccine for a while.

Seniors age 80 and older are among those at the greatest risk for COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In China, where the outbreak started, the virus’s death rate for the overall population was 2.3 percent, but 14.8 percent for those age 80 and up, according to a March 3 report from Stat News.

At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced he’ll be signing a declaration of a public health disaster for Houston. So far, 14 people have either tested positive or are presumed positive for COVID-19 in the Houston area, including a non-travel related case in Montgomery County.

Follow Houstonia’s Coronavirus coverage here.

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