City council members deliver meals after employee gets COVID-19

DUNBAR, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A city of Dunbar Seniors Services Program employee tested positive for COVID-19 last week, resulting in everyone who works on the senior citizen meal delivery program to be sent home to quarantine for 14 days and get tested for the virus.

Dunbar City Council President Steve Arnott delivers meals to senior citizens.

The meal program was set to be stopped without anyone to pick the food up in Charleston and distribute it to seniors across Dunbar, so Mayor Bill Cunningham asked for volunteers or an organization to help fill the gap.

City Councilmen Steve Arnott, Mike Scipio and Greg Hudson stepped up to work together and continue the deliveries until the normal employees are allowed to leave quarantine.

"In Dunbar, one of our hallmarks is our senior services, and that is one of our strong points," Hudson said. "We didn’t want to let that fall through the cracks, so we want to keep that going and we need to be fluid in how we do it because of COVID-19. But, we want to keep our senior services going as much as it’s safe and possible in this time."

The group began deliveries on Tuesday and continued on Wednesday by supplying lunch to 16 Dunbar residents. They wore masks and gloves to protect from the virus and remained a 6-foot social distance from everyone whenever possible.

"When I was delivering one of them, the lady was waiting on me on the porch," Arnott said. "I could just see it in her face that she was waiting on it and depending on it. A lot of people can’t get out, and I know they are dependent on these meals."

"They are very important," meal recipient Debbie Grace said. "Otherwise, you would go hungry. It helps people, and to know that other people care about the people in here that we do have food to eat, that makes it really nice."

Grace said the program also gives her a reason to leave her apartment and interact with other people. Those few moments of socialization are very important after being stuck at home due to the deadly pandemic, Hudson said.

The group plans to continue providing the meals during the next week and a half until the regular employees are able to return to work.

The city is working with Kanawha Valley Senior Services and the Kanawha County Commission to organize the revised meal delivery program.