What a ‘stay-at-home’ order looks like for an elder

Essie Duke
Brooklyn, New York
12:15 p.m. March 26, 2020

What a “stay-at-home” order looks like for an elder

Over the past two weeks, my upstairs neighbor, 78-year-old Eleanore Borelli of Brooklyn, New York, has not left her condo except for one short trip to the grocery store.

Elanore and Dominic Borelli

Like many elderly New York City residents, Borelli and her husband, who is 86, are particularly at risk for being infected by the coronavirus. Any exposure to the virus, even minimally, can pose serious or fatal risks to their health.

“I’m really worried about my husband, because he has respiratory problems,” Borelli said. “Sometimes I get a little frightened; sometimes I cry by myself.”

I’ve known Borelli and her husband, Dominic, for five months — around the time when my family moved into a new condo we purchased in this gated community. Before the coronavirus rapidly spread throughout New York City, I used to see her and her husband often, walking outside and driving to see their children, who live in Staten Island and Queens.

Now, the couple is staying inside their homes under New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s “Matilda’s Law,” which aims to protect vulnerable groups for the coronavirus, such as the elderly and immunocompromised — people who have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases.

“I keep busy inside, and my husband keeps me busy too,” she said. “I’ve cleaned my bathrooms so much, you could eat in there.”

Borelli said she also crochets, watches television with her husband, and completes puzzles to keep her busy. She said she is an avid churchgoer, but as non-essential businesses in New York City are closed due to the coronavirus, she now watches her church’s services online.

“When I’m watching this on TV, I’m praying that all of this will go away,” she said.

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