Corona virus

COVID-19 resources:

The best source of accurate, up to date information about the corona virus is the Centers for Disease Control at

Both South Orange and Maplewood are continually updating their websites with information and have established COVID-19 portals:

In addition, AARP and the National Council on Aging have up to date recommendations and news for older residents at

Other information sources:

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed due to COVID-19, New Jersey has a Mental Health Helpline.  Please call 877-294-HELP (4357) or visit their website for emotional support, guidance and mental health referrals as needed.

How to Prevent the Spread:
Using the same practices for the cold and flu season are very effective in preventing your exposure to this and other germs:

  • Avoid crowded places.  Go shopping off peak or consider ordering food deliveries online.  Take advantage of the many local restaurants that deliver
  • Cover your cough (or your sneeze) with the elbow of your sleeve or with a tissue and throw it away.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds - it is the soap and rubbing action under water that removes the germs.
  • Use a paper towel to open the door if you are in a public space or use hand sanitizer.
  • Wash your hands every time after being in a public space.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Continue your health routines - get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, eat well and continue to take all of your medications.
  • If you are not feeling well, CALL your doctor before going to the office.
  • As an extra precaution, wear gloves when you go out to the store or places other people have been.  Garden gloves, winter gloves or the ones you wear to wash dishes will do - and wash them when you come back home.

Food Delivery
Now is a good time to consider food delivery.  Some are backed up with the frenzy of people stocking up, but should resolve soon.  In ht emeantime, Umbrella is stepping in to help:

Umbrella is throwing all of our resources around the biggest need for seniors -- access to food. Delivery services have weeks-long waits (and non-digital seniors can't access them in the first place). We've set up a hotline where any senior in the state can call us at 973-200-4499 to ask for grocery delivery. They can also place an order online.  Young, healthy people are stepping up by volunteering to help shop on behalf of their older neighbors. 

To order directly:

Whole Foods:
Stop & Shop:

By Phone:
Ashley Market-South Orange Avenue, will shop for you and you can pick up.  Call (973) 762-5200 x1 to place an order.

If you or someone you know cannot get out to go grocery shopping, SOMA Two Towns for All Ages is partnering with the Parenting Center to have volunteers deliver food.  Any South Orange or Maplewood senior needing this service, please contact Cathy Rowe at (973) 558-0863 or Please share this information with other older adults.

Restaurants are open for take out and delivery.  If you get deliveries of any kind, the recommendation for being safest is to have the delivery left at your step, or reach into the delivery bag/box to take it out.  Wipe down containers, then wash your hands before you take the food out.

For a listing of South Orange restaurants, click here:

Safer Senior Shopping
Local grocery stores will be following a safer, senior shopping practice and will be open for residents 60+ only before opening to the general public.  This will help make sure the stores are cleaned, stocked and less crowded.

  • Stop & Shop on Valley St. -  6am - 7:30am
  • Kings Supermarket will reserve the first hour of shopping for seniors and “high risk guests” -  7am - 8am
  • Extra Supermarket on Irvington Ave. - 6am - 7:30 am for seniors only. In addition, they will be offering free taxi service for seniors to get home with their purchase. The service will only take them home and there’s no minimum purchase.
  • Ashley Market in South Orange Village is not doing senior only hours but takes orders by phone. (973) 762-5200 x1

Assistance for  our Senior Community
In a collaborative effort with the Township of South Orange Village, The Township of Maplewood and the generosity of our greater community, over  $16,000 has been raised for the COVID-19 SOMA Senior Support fund. If you need help with food, transportation or anything else because of all the disruptions to services, please call (973) 558-0863, email: or fill out the contact form on the website.  All requests will be kept confidential.   South Orange residents can also reach out to social worker Carol Berman,, (973) 986-4321. A special thanks to our mayors and elected officials for supporting this effort.

Senior Food Bank
If you or a senior you know needs immediate food delivered in South Orange or Maplewood, please reach out to  (973) 558-0863 or

What does social distancing mean?
We keep hearing this term on the news and in information on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Social distancing means keeping a greater physical distance from other people.  Avoid crowds and large groups. Do not shake hands, and keep about 6 feet away from others.  How can you do this? If you go shopping, try to go when the store is not busy and keep a shopping cart’s length between you and  other shoppers. This might not be the time to have visitors. Do not invite people over unless you know they are healthy and careful.

Staying Connected and Fighting Isolation
Just because we can’t get together in person, doesn't mean we can’t stay connected.  Consider calling friends, neighbors and members of any groups you are part of.  One of our active, older residents has set up a new Facebook page for people to connect and share strategies - thanks Pearl!  It is called the SOMA Seniors Silver Society and can be found on Facebook at

Be Alert for Scams
Unfortunately, scammers seem to find a way to try to steal even under a social isolation!  Be alert to a scammer trying to trick you into giving them money by pretending to be a charity.  You can see tips from the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here: FTC Tips

For a quick guide to avoid scams, click here: Quick Guide to Avoid Scams

Handling the Stress
As the social restrictions continue, AARP has recommendations for dealing with the stress, anxiety and emotions that many people are facing. Click here for the full article: How to Take Care of your Mental Health

It is normal to feel stress and anxiety during public health emergencies. This helpful guide covers what are normal reactions and what you can do to help manage your stress levels  : Coping with Emotional Impact Brochure

If you are feeling the strain of these challenging circumstances and need support, you can call the NJ Mental Health
Cares at (877) 294-4357. 

Here's a great quote to put it in perspective from Dr. Brian Flynn, a retired Rear Admiral and Asst. Surgeon General of the US. He is now associated with the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress”: 

 “We have all heard (and probably used) the term 'social distancing' in recent days. Actually, what we mean is 'physical distancing' from other people. NOT social distancing. The goal is to create physical distance but we also want to maintain 'social connectedness'.

Maintaining social connection and support in times of crisis has been repeatedly shown to result in positive psycho-social outcomes. My colleagues and I at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress have taken to talking about, 'Creating physical distance while maintaining social connectedness.' The bottom line is that we all need to be aware and creative in staying socially connected with our friends, families, and coworkers while getting used to, at least for awhile, being more physically distant. Let's get creative.."

 Good advice, don't you think?

Getting through this together
Share your ideas for keeping busy and entertained - how are you spending your social distancing time?  I will post on them here  to share.  Here’s what I have so far:

  • at 5pm every evening, everyone go out on your front porch and wave to each other. In Italy it turned into an opera sing-along in one town, but no pressure to perform yet.
  • Take the time to fill out your census form!  Go to or call 844-330-2020, or respond to the mail you receive from the Census Bureau. The Census workers on the phone are very friendly.
  • Now is a good time to explore technology!  E-books,  Netflix, try HULU, facetime.  I will post instructions on the website. If you need help figuring out technology, let me know and I will have a tech savvy volunteer call you and walk you through it.
  • Go on a virtual museum tour. Many museums let you  browse their collection through their website.
  • Check out what the libraries have online - movies, e-books, magazine subscriptions - all free with your library card.
  • Go for a walk - go around the block, or check out the repaved Crest Drive in the South Mountain Reservation, entrance at the top of South Orange Ave.
  • Spend time outside - get a jumpstart on your garden.
  • Call or email people in your groups that are cancelled, like mah jong, the library lectures and other clubs.
  • You can talk to neighbors outside, just keep your distance.  Talk to someone from your front steps.
  • Connect with friends you haven’t called in a while.
  • Try something new