KEARNEY — Housing units for senior citizens — independent living facilities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes — are taking steps to try to keep the COVID-19 out of their facilities. The highly contagious virus is especially a threat to the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions.

Starting today, visitors will be screened at Prairie View Gardens at 1705 Prairie View Place, Good Samaritan Society St. John’s at 3410 Central Ave., and Good Samaritan Society St. Luke’s at 2201 E. 32nd Place, according to Shawn Leach, the administrator at all three facilities. All are owned by the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Leach said visitors will be asked whether they have traveled outside the country, what contact they have had with people who have traveled outside the country and other key questions. Visitors may be asked to wear masks.

Stephanie Simmons, executive director at Mother Hull Home at 125 E. 23rd St., said her facility is following protocols already in place for influenza and other diseases. Mother Hull is making plans for what it might do if a staff member becomes ill and requires a 14-day quarantine period.

Gwen Jacobsen, executive director at Homestead Assisted Living Residence at 4205 Sixth Ave., said a notice on the front door asks people with colds and other infections not to visit. Hand sanitizer is available for people going in and out of the facility.

“Staff is urged continuously to wash their hands and keep their hands away from their faces. It’s just common sense,” she said.

At Prince of Peace Catholic Church at 5610 W. 24th St., parishioners were advised to simply stay hello and not hug or hold hands during the passing of the peace at Mass last weekend. Parishioners also were told to stay home if illness threatens and not feel obligated to come to Mass. Other area churches, according to reports, are taking similar measures to protect their congregations.

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