ATLANTA — Numbers show that seniors continue to be the most vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Metro Atlanta nursing homes and health care centers are taking measures to protect seniors. Several centers in Georgia are making changes when it comes to visitors and vendors.

While most people infected will only experience mild symptoms, the virus has proven to be more deadly among people over 80 who get sick with the fatality rate close to 15 percent.

That’s why facilities like Phoenix Senior Living are limiting visitors at this time. They are screening all of its care providers before coming into the facilities, as well as all residents before moving in or returning to the facility. Vendors aren’t allowed in, unless it’s an emergency.  Yet, screening might not be enough.

"We are thinking about five days is when the symptoms start to show so if you happen to screen that person before the five days, they may not show symptoms and they could be infected,” said Dr. Sujatha Reddy.

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PruittHealth has more than 50 facilities in Georgia. It has an emergency operations call center up and running.  It’s also discouraging visitors, providing onsite screening for those who are coming in, as well as vendors, residents and patients.  

“Employees are coming and going, often in other facilities, obviously they probably go home to their own families, so it's really going to be a tough scenario to really completely isolate people in a nursing home,” said Reddy.

In a statement, Signature HealthCARE says it "will continue to closely monitor all CDC updates and follow its directives, as well as employ appropriate standard precautions and preventative measures against infection."

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"This includes limiting access to our facilities. Limiting Access means that no individual, regardless of reason, will be allowed to enter a facility, except under certain and very specific circumstances, such as end-of-life situations or when essential for a resident’s emotional well-being and care. 

All essential visitors and stakeholders must enter facility through one locked point of entry and exit only. Upon arrival, and before being granted access, all essential visitors and stakeholders will be screened for recent travel, illness and exposure to individuals identified having COVID19. Regular visiting hours have been temporarily suspended," the statement reads.

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Pruitt Health said in part that they've added additional safeguards, saying "based on guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services, we are discouraging visitors to our health care centers at this time," the statement said. 

"For those compelled to visit, strict entry screening protocols are being followed, and visitors will use alcohol-based hand sanitizer upon entry. Visitation hours have been reduced to 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.to 6 p.m. We have established an Emergency Operations Call Center for caregivers, patients and family members should they have questions related to our infectious disease protocol. The number is 855-742-5983," the statement said. 

In Georgia, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low, according to officials. At 11Alive, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.11Alive.com/Coronavirus.

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