Coronavirus: Resources for High-Risk Populations

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on March 19, 2020

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young man delivering groceries to senior woman.

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Find out about prescription delivery, stores with senior hours, and more.

COVID-19 has swept through much of the world, leading to thousands of deaths and causing many more to become ill. The risks of novel coronavirus are not spread evenly among the population, though. Seniors, immunocompromised individuals, and people with underlying heart and lung conditions are most at risk of adverse outcomes if exposed to the virus.  

If you or a loved one is in the high-risk population, it's imperative you follow social-distancing guidelines to reduce the risk of infection. This includes remaining in your home as much as possible and limiting contact with members of the public. Unfortunately, these guidelines can make life challenging as you still need food, medications, and other basic life necessities.

Fortunately, many businesses, including banks, are putting special support in place. And both nonprofits and government agencies are working to provide supportive services to high-risk populations. If you're considered high risk, this guide to resources can assist you in finding the options available to help you stay safe.

Stores with special hours for high-risk populations

Many stores throughout the country have established special shopping hours for seniors and others at elevated risk. These include:

  • Walmart: Between March 24 and April 28, all Walmart stores across the country will hold a Tuesday senior shopping hour for one hour prior to the store's normal opening time. This is restricted to seniors 60 and over. The pharmacy and vision center will be open at this time as well. Walmarts are also changing their hours and will now open at 7 a.m. (or later if the store normally has a later start time).
  • Target: Target has scheduled special shopping hours on Wednesdays. Beginning March 18, the first hour the store is open each Wednesday will be reserved for the elderly and people with underlying health issues.
  • Dollar General: Dollar General is limiting shopping to seniors only during the first hour of each day. The store is not setting a specific age restriction but asks customers to respect the policy. 
  • Whole Foods: Beginning on March 18, all U.S. Whole Foods stores will allow seniors 60 and over to shop one hour prior to the store opening every Wednesday. 

Many regional or local stores are also instituting special hours for seniors. Check your store's website for more information on how it is responding to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Delivery services for food 

If you don't want to go out of your house, you also have options for grocery and food delivery. 

  • UberEats has announced it is waiving food delivery fees on orders from independent restaurants during the coronavirus crisis. You can get food delivered while supporting your local community restaurants. To avoid contact with your delivery driver, you can request they leave food at the door. 
  • Meals on Wheels serves clients aged 60 and over. The fees for meal delivery are on a sliding scale depending on circumstances, with some seniors getting meals at no cost.

There are also other meal delivery and grocery delivery services including DoorDash, GrubHub, and Instacart, but most charge various fees for delivery.

Telehealth options and prescription delivery

Medicare has announced telehealth visits will be covered for seniors. This means you can conduct video or phone appointments with your doctor without having to leave your home. Doctors can even prescribe needed medications after these virtual visits.

If you are prescribed medications, you have options to have them delivered right to your door. 

  • CVS is waiving prescription delivery fees through May 1 with one to two-day delivery available after your prescription is ready.
  • Walgreens provides free delivery on eligible medications. The drug store is also indefinitely waiving standard shipping fees for orders. 

Help is available if you're at risk

While seniors are uniquely vulnerable to coronavirus, there are plenty of options out there for people in other high-risk groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips to stay healthy if you're high risk, and we have guides to help you find housing help or mental health services, as well as tips on making wise financial choices during the COVID-19 crisis.

The key is to ask for help if you need it and to follow guidelines to protect your health until the crisis passes. The safety of you and your loved ones is of utmost importance and there are plenty of people in your community working to reduce your risk.

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