Local nursing homes have begun taking steps to limit access to their buildings from outside visitors and vendors in order to safeguard the health of their elderly residents as reports continue to document the spread of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, throughout Cook County and the state of Illinois.

Access has already been limited at Cantata Adult Life Services in Brookfield. At least one person with a relative living at Cantata reported on social media Monday evening that visitors were not being allowed inside the buildings and residents were restricted from leaving at this time.

Responding to a request for more information by the Landmark, Cantata’s chief development officer, Kevin Heraty, said in an email, “Based on current information provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) re: the potential transmission of COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus) Cantata Adult Life Services is restricting access to our campus to essential visitors.”

In addition, Heraty said that, for the time being, no visitors under the age of 18 are being allowed entry.

“I do not know how long such restrictions may last,” Heraty said. “Cantata has no known cases of COVID-19 at this time, and will continue to follow IDPH directions to protect all of our clients, residents and employees.

Reached on the morning of March 10, Gus Noble, president of Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care in North Riverside, said staff were meeting that day to discuss what precautions to take in addition to ones already in place.

Non-essential meetings, said Noble, were not being held in person but rather through video calls. As for limiting visitor and vendor access to the buildings, Noble said the Illinois Department of Public Health had strongly recommended that nursing homes in the Chicago metropolitan area look at ways to impose site restrictions.

As a result, the Riverside Township Lions Club’s monthly meeting, scheduled for March 10 in the Heritage Hall of the Scottish Home on Caledonia’s campus, has been canceled.

Noble and other nursing home officials participated on March 9 in a conference call with state officials on responding to the coronavirus threat, the same day Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a state of emergency in response to the international outbreak. As of Monday evening, 11 people in Illinois had been diagnosed with the virus.

“I’d imagine we’d make an announcement to family and residents within 24 hours,” Noble said late Tuesday morning.

Noble called such moves “a delicate balance.”

“We don’t want to raise an alarm, but at the same time you want to be over-prepared and take every precaution to protect residents and staff.”