Dear friends of Bay Ridge Connects, 

As we’re all dealing with the realities of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, we at Bay Ridge Connects want to affirm that the health and safety of all members, participants, trainers, staff and volunteers is of the highest importance. Right now our centers are closed to the public, and we’re continuing to monitor the situation, facilitate best practices, provide support, and adjust

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course as needed to ensure the wellbeing of our community. We continue home-delivered meals and offer a take-out lunch from Bay Ridge Center on 4th Avenue.

Bay Ridge Connects staff are abiding by precautionary measures as recommended by the CDC and WHO, including thorough hand-washing and remaining at home if sick; our staff is also undertaking additional cleaning and safety measures for our buildings. We recommend that older adults consult the CDC website for up-to-date guidelines on how to best care for themselves, and their local Department of Health for information specific to their area.  

Bay Ridge Connects staff also will abide by any additional precautions recommended by the relevant local governments, including New York State and New York City.

We also want to take a moment to reflect on how COVID-19 may impact older adults in particular. In times of so-called “social distancing,” seniors are often left with the fewest resources. Older adults are among the most significant users of public programs and social services, including senior centers, which have now been closed in New York City, leaving many older adults without access to vital social connections and services. 

Bay Ridge Connects is actively developing ways to combat the social isolation that may result from necessary COVID-19 protective measures, including offering increased online programming and resources. We’re taking steps to shift our in-person programs to alternate online platforms. We’ll be in touch via email when these programs are available; they’ll also be posted on relevant social media. Please stay connected with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter as well. Let’s get through this together!

As a primary measure, Bay Ridge Connects recommends that all older adults get online as quickly as possible. This public health crisis is also an information crisis: according to the Pew Research Center, in 2019, 37% of adults over the age of 60 do not use the Internet, where the most accessible, up-to-date information on COVID-19 and local and national guidelines is kept. Older adults, who are among those most vulnerable to the virus, must have access to essential information and services. It’s important to note that there are low-cost internet service options available, including through Comcast’s Internet Essentials, which is offering 60 days of free internet for new subscribers in light of COVID-19, and Spectrum’s Internet Assist program.

We urge everyone who’s connected to an older adult who may not have Internet access to encourage or help them to take that step now, and we urge older adults without Internet to apply for low-cost Internet or purchase it outright immediately. We're also calling on government officials and policy makers to include support for Internet access in COVID-19 relief and protection measures. 

We’ll be doing our best to continually offer opportunities for information, connection, and support via digital channels in the time ahead. Many older adults in the Bay Ridge Connects community are in a good position to take advantage of their newfound skills, their links to fellow members and participants, and their willingness to adapt to a changing world.

Let’s join hands (virtually) and stay strong as we support one another. 

The Staff of Bay Ridge Center and Bay Ridge Connects