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As extreme heat rolls through San Joaquin Valley, cooling centers begin to open with social distancing

Public swimming pools and splash parks are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is limiting the places to escape the heat. But cooling centers are opening.

MANTECA, California — Karen Anderson is trying to keep her cool. The Manteca mother who said she was laid from her engineering tech job, has been living out of her car with her son for two years.

"We've been trying to get into a place, but everything is kind of on hold, because of the [pandemic]," Anderson said.

The scorching sun led Anderson and several others to the Manteca Senior Center where the doors have opened for those needing a break from the heat.

Public swimming pools, splash parks and other locations are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic limiting the places to cool down.

But there are rules. Before you enter the building, you have to have a mask. And if you don't have one, they'll provide one for you. If you appear sick they'll take your temperature.

"And we have hand sanitizer, we have bottled water, and they're making sure that everybody sits at least six-feet apart," explained Manteca Fire Battalion Chief Dave Marques who is in charge of managing the cooling center. "We have capacity here to have a lot of people and still be socially distant."

Irene Reveles was one of several here before the doors opened at 1 p.m. to make sure she had a place inside.

"Oh, it's very important. Not only for myself, but for the elderly and everybody, because extreme weather can be dangerous," Reveles said.

For now, there are two cooling centers in San Joaquin County — the senior center in Manteca at 295 Cherry Lane and the Transit Center at 50 E. Street in Tracy. 

Both are open from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

On Thursday, the Manteca Senior Center will be replaced by the larger Manteca Transit Center at 220 Moffat Blvd near downtown.

Lathrop is planning to open a cooling center soon, but Stockton has not announced a cooling center location.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Kurt Rivera.

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