BULLHEAD CITY — Two city government services that seniors depend upon heavily continue to operate during the widespread slowdown meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Both the Bullhead Area Transit System and the senior meals programs have been modified, according to City Manager Toby Cotter.
Seating on the BATS buses is based on guidelines created by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: No more than nine passengers and a driver are allowed on a bus.
The CDC’s social distancing recommendation is that no more than 10 people be together in one place.
BATS ridership has gone down since concern about the virus widened mid-month. Cotter reported that on March 16 the number of riders was a normal 522 but by March 20 had fallen to 346 — a drop of 35%.
“We are cleaning and sanitizing each bus on the top of each hour at the Riverview hub,” Cotter said. “We keep a bus on standby and a van also to keep us under the 10-person CDC requirement.”
Some of the busiest BATS stops are Walmart, Safeway, and Smith’s, Cotter noted.
BATS operates four fixed routes with 72 stops. Buses run Monday through Fridays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Many major retailers have devoted some early operating hours specifically for seniors and other people at higher risk to become very ill from COVID-19. Those hours correspond with the early hours of BATS’ service.
It’s a good idea to contact the store you want to visit to confirm special shopping times or restrictions before planning a trip.
People with online access — such as through a computer or smartphone — can go to Bullheadcity.com for information about local businesses that offer shopping times as well as other information, including which businesses have closed or made modifications to their hours or other aspects of their operations.
The system isn’t senior-exclusive. Anyone who can’t drive or simply doesn’t want to drive can use BATS.
One-way rides are $1 and an all-day pass is $4.
Call 928-704-2287 on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Separate Dial-A-Ride and Senior Transportation services will continue to operate as normal.
There has been some decrease in the number of seniors who are doing drive-through pick-up of meals when compared to the number who had been coming to the Senior Nutrition Center to eat since the CDC issued its guidelines seeking to limit group gatherings, Cotter said.
The city complied with the CDC recommendations by closing the Senior Nutrition Center’s dining room and canceling Senior Center activities.
Drive-through senior meal clients who want to take frozen meals with them can arrange for that so they don’t have to make the trip to the center each day.
The number of seniors receiving Meals on Wheels delivery to homebound clients has gone up slightly to about 140 meals a day without affecting the normal meal delivery routes.
Volunteers who provide the meals are doing their best to limit contact with seniors, who are among groups considered at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
This includes no longer requiring clients to sign for the meals and building up toward bringing more meals in each delivery so fewer deliveries are necessary.
“All wellness checks that are normally provided are being done by phone calls to make sure our seniors are doing OK,” Cotter emphasized. “If there is not an answer, we can still visit to check on them.”
Direct Meals on Wheels questions to City Hall, 928-763-9400.