Despite Governor’s urgings to ‘shelter in place,’ many seniors say they’ll risk leaving home

Among the seniors who heard Governor Inslee's firm request for people 60 and over to shelter in place during the coronavirus outbreak is Werner Glass, who is close to celebrating his 93rd birthday, has a PhD in science, and understands the risk of infection for older adults.

"I agree, I should shelter in place," Glass said. "But gosh. You can spend so much time sheltering in place. I get cooped up, and I just got to get out."

Glass lives on Mercer Island where nearly a third of all residents are seniors, and many told KIRO-7 they will not shelter in place.

"It would be very hard for me to say that I was not going to go to a store anymore," said senior Harriett Morton, who said her husband at home is very vulnerable, but she'll still shop for what she needs.

Morton said she appreciates a new plan Safeway, Albertsons, Haagen and other grocery stores have to reserve certain store hours for seniors and people with compromised immune systems.

U.W. Medicine's Dr. Wayne McCormick, who specializes in senior care, said every decade a person is over age 60 puts them far more at risk for complications from COVID-19 infections.

"Since it affects older people with illness more severely, the safe thing to do is to self-isolate," he said.

Werner Glass put his risk into perspective.

"I'm not worried about coronavirus," he said. When you're going on 93, every day is a bonus day!"

-Safeway and Albertsons: Tuesday and Thursday 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. reserved for shoppers 60 and over, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women.

-Uwajimaya: Beginning March 18 dedicates first hour of opening (8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) to senior shoppers only.

-Whole Foods: Beginning March 18, all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. and Canada will service customers who are 60 and older one hour before opening to the public.

Beginning March 19, all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.K. will service customers who are 70 and older one hour before opening to the public.

News releases from the stores say setting aside special time for people who national health authorities have identified as among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 feel more comfortable selecting the items they need in a less crowded environment.