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Despite no confirmed DC-area coronavirus cases, local seniors still wary

When she goes to her local Chinese senior center in Montgomery County, Maryland, Vivien Hsueh said it’s easy to see the impact the threat of the novel coronavirus is having on the community.

“A lot of people opt to stay home,” said Hsueh, founder of the Chinese American Senior Services Association, known as CASSA. “They are afraid.”

Attendance at day programs and events at the organization’s five senior centers in Montgomery County is less than half of what it has been, she said.

There haven’t been any confirmed cases in Maryland, but Hsueh said the fear that some local seniors are having is coming from what they’re getting from those they know in China.

“They’re hearing a lot of bad news,” Hsueh said.

Hsueh is retired from her position with CASSA and now goes to the community centers herself. She said that local seniors are listening to reports of news abroad and that’s keeping them from venturing out of their homes.

She isn’t scared, and said that they shouldn’t be either.

“Because of the culture, and their friends in China, they’re hearing a lot of bad news, so they are thinking they are putting themselves [in a situation] as if they are living in China, so they are really scared,” Hsueh said.

She said that CASSA has already canceled a major chorus event scheduled for April that brings about 15 to 16 groups together, because people are scared to go out.

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