Volunteer groups impacted COVID-19 concerns

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are having an impact on local volunteer groups.

From social distancing to sanitizing to self-quarantining in order to protect the vulnerable, volunteer organization have had to make major adjustments.

“Right now, we’re very cautious with how many volunteers operate in our space because we are concerned about spreading the virus,” said Lt. Antwann Yokum, commanding officer with the Salvation Army in Johnson City. “The social distancing is an important piece right now that’s recommended by the CDC.”

Yokum says services are changing but not stopping.

“Our sanitization processes are continuing and we’re asking for any clients that come in to be smart,” Yokum said. “Our intake process for our shelter is a little bit more aggressive in that we are screening folks for any type of respiratory issues or sickness.”

Some of those changes include providing meals to go instead of allowing people in the dining room.

Meanwhile, the senior center in Jonesborough is implementing a plan to keep the elderly fed.

“We will be offering a drive-up service because we do serve lunch here daily,” said Senior Center Director Mary Regan. “We will continue that service, but we will actually take it outside and people are welcome to drive up and we can actually hand that off.”

Regan says vital programs, like Meals on Wheels and MyRide, are still operating but with reservations and at the discretion of the staff nurse.

“We’re actually going through with our riders and our drivers going down the checklist of the symptoms, ensuring before each trip goes out, our coordinator is going over that with them to make sure they don’t have any of those symptoms and making sure that our volunteers who are providing those very essential services are still protected,” Regan said.

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