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Central Area Senior Center still offering meals and community in wake of coronavirus

Central Area Senior Center
File photo of the Central Area Senior Center Bridge players. The weekly gathering is on hiatus, but meals and some exercise classes are still available.

Anyone over 60 is considered at high risk for the new coronavirus. As a result, a lot of community centers have cancelled activities for seniors. But, the Central Area Senior Center in Seattle, which primarily serves African Americans, is still offering meals and activities while working to keep members safe.

 "We sanitize and clean regularly.  We ask people to self quarantine  if they are sick or having symptoms, if they have traveled to a foreign country recently, if they have been around family, neighbors or friends who have fevers, or symptoms of the Coronavirus," Ferguson said in an email.

She said while some larger gatherings like Bingo have been temporarily cancelled, the center is still doing daily lunches.  On Tuesday, chef Anthony Herz was preparing jambalaya, mustard greens and fresh fruit. He said it's about a lot more than the food.
"It's about socializing, social life is a healthy life," he said.
On Tuesday morning, there was also a line dance class. As the music plays on a boombox, Roberta Langworthy turns and shimmies along with about six other women.

Usually, the class is full, but not since the coronavirus hit the region. Langworthy, who lives in the neighborhood, has been coming to the center since she retired in 2003.


As for how she's dealing with the coronavirus threat, she said she's been more careful, washing her hands and avoiding others who are sick, but it hasn't stopped her from going out. She said initially she was apprehensive.


"But then when I didn't have the symptoms of fever and a cough I thought O.K. let me just venture out a little bit," she said.

She said she's glad the line dance class is still an option because it helps her get out of the house. A Tai Chi class and a walking group she's part of have been cancelled because of the virus threat.

This isn't Langworthy's first experience with a major pandemic. She said when she was in grade school on Capitol Hill, what became known as the Asian flu pandemic of 1957 hit Seattle.

"Our whole family got it and when we went back to school everybody ran from us because they were so afraid that they would catch it," she said.

Langworthy said her hope is that people will avoid that level of hysteria about the current pandemic. She said people should be careful but not panic.





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Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.