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Age-Friendly Miami-Dade County, Florida, Responds to COVID-19

How the community is serving and protecting its older residents

Miami-Dade County, Florida, is home to 2.7 million people, 16.7 percent of whom are 65 or older. A member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities since 2016, the county's age-friendly effort is called the Miami-Dade Age Friendly Initiative.

Age-Friendly Resources

Age-Friendly Miami-Dade

Click on the image to see the Miami-Dade Age Friendly Initiative's extensive list of COVID-19 resources for older adults.

Rovira and Arvesu explain how the community is helping its older residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

(Information provided to AARP on June 11, 2020)

The Challenge

“Early on, our community's biggest challenge was ensuring there was a coordinated plan to manage the spread of COVID-19, particularly among our older adult population. With these initial plans in place, we recognized the importance of addressing the rising social isolation and food insecurity problems, and ensuring that residents have access to correct information.” 

The Response

"Before any reported cases in the county or the state-at-home order, a task force was pulled together at the direction of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The initial stakeholder meeting had more than 80 participants, including county representatives and leaders in housing, food assistance and more.

"To streamline and systemize county processes, the task force put together COVID-19 risk assessment plans and public health management decision-making plans for nursing homes, adult day care programs at community centers and adult living facilities. The plans map out processes for what to do in the event of a suspected case of COVID-19 and when to contact various county departments and local services. The plans were able to be implemented more quickly when needed because they were already in place.

The Focus Areas

"The county has been offering free COVID-19 testing and providing in-home testing where needed. It has been compiling resources and coordinating with agencies to address growing needs. For instance, the Miami-Dade County website lists resources for seniors, including food assistance. The county also expanded rent relief and other services.

"To address one aspect of social isolation and serve residents who aren't leaving their homes at all due to COVID-19, the county introduced a virtual exercise club called the Feeling Fit Club. The program, started in San Diego, provides classes of varying difficulty via video. Residents of all ages and abilities can access the classes on the county’s TV station and on YouTube. We're excited to pilot the Feeling Fit Club, which is a program we can continue for homebound seniors.

"Older adults can sign up for the county’s Emergency Senior Meals Service Program by calling 311 or submitting a request online. The program is delivering roughly 80,000 meals a day. For older residents who were previously receiving meals in person at senior congregate sites or adult day care centers, those programs quickly shifted to meal deliveries. The county also set up drive-thru food distribution events for residents to pick up groceries and meals. One challenge is that many of the sites require having a car, which can pose difficulties for people without transportation. 

"Another way the community has responded is through several COVID-19 funds that are helping individuals with financial and other needs. Some examples among the many efforts include the Miami Pandemic Response Fund, Operation Helping Hands and the Miami Foundation Community Recovery Fund.

"In addition, the 2020 Hurricane Preparedness Guide released by the Office of Emergency Management includes information about how preparations must take the COVID-19 pandemic into account. COVID-19 information for hurricane season is also available on the county website and highlights the dual needs in this public health preparation.

"The county’s comprehensive COVID-19 page serves as a one-stop-shop for updated information and resources with a specific section for food distribution and senior services. The Miami-Dade Age Friendly Initiative’s COVID-19 Age-Friendly Resources page combines county, state and national resources and information for older adults. There's a map that features COVID-19 testing sites, food distribution sites, senior-only grocery shopping hours and mental health services."

The Results, Thus Far

"The efforts have been successful due to the coordination with county departments, municipalities across the county, and local community organizations. For example, the age-friendly team and other local groups have been phone-banking to reach out to older residents. We're coordinating the response through daily calls with senior organizations across the county. Miami-Dade continues to see cases rising. It's important to ensure that services continue and adapt to meet older adults’ needs and keep vulnerable populations safe."

Research by Shosanna Preuss  | Article published June 2020

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