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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Missoula Senior Center Moves To Takeout Meal Service

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The Missoula Senior Center is changing how it serves meals to its elderly members; a step designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The disease is particularly dangerous for the elderly

John Nugent, the Senior Center’s board president, says that after a recent meeting with local health officials the organization is now in full compliance with new regulations put in place by several counties, including Missoula, limiting restaurant and food services.

"We’re doing a 'grab-n-go', I guess is what they’re calling it. We’re attempting to serve our members by having them come and take it and either take it home, eat it in their car, or we have some homeless people that we set up a table for out in the parking lot that they can sit at the table and eat it."

Nugent says the Senior Center’s luncheon clients even stand six feet apart as they wait in line around the building on Missoula’s Higgins Avenue.

These are very different protocols than those in place just a couple of days ago.

As Montana Public Radio reported earlier this week, the Center was serving meals to over 100 clients at a time in a sit-down dining setting. That’s over twice the crowd size public health officials are recommending to slow the spread of COVID-19.

That seating arrangement raised a red flag for Missoula Aging Services CEO Susan Kohler. But Kohler says she's thrilled with the new and improved dining arrangement.

"I’m very pleased because it’s the right decision. I wish they’d made it earlier, but it’s better than not at all. We’ve offered to help in any way we can, and I think they’re taking a great deal of responsibility in being careful in how they’re passing out meals."

Both Kohler and Nugent say they’re also developing ways to help local seniors from feeling even more socially isolated under this emerging health crisis.

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