Sagadahoc County Transport deputies Carl Fleck, right, and Jeff Shiers pack up bags full of meals for delivery to homebound seniors in Bath Friday through the Meals on Wheels program. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — Health experts have advised people stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus, especially senior citizens, who are most vulnerable to the respiratory illness caused by the virus.

“This is a vulnerable population,” said Gerard Queally, the president and CEO of Spectrum Generations, which serves about 800 people a day from Jackman to Brunswick to Belfast through its Meals on Wheels program. “They’re vulnerable every day and now they’re vulnerable to this disease, and how do you meet their needs without exposing them to this disease?”

The program, which has a waiting list of 260 people, isn’t taking new clients, Queally said, but will continue delivering meals to residents as long as possible.

The organization delivers meals so about 200 Midcoast residents from the senior center People Plus in Brunswick twice a week. From there, volunteers deliver the meals to seniors and others who can’t otherwise cook or access food.

There were 89 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine as of Sunday, with 53 cases in Cumberland County according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Teddi Reed, Spectrum Generations’ nutrition coordinator, said some of these volunteers who are seniors have had to drop out because they are in the high-risk pool or because they don’t feel well — none due to coronavirus as of Friday.

People have been donating and new volunteers have come forward to help, either delivering meals or helping package or sanitize, “and we are grateful,” Reed said Friday.

Sagadahoc County Sherriff Joel Merry offered to let two members of his transport team, deputies Carl Fleck and Jeff Shiers, help deliver meals starting Friday.

“If they’re short on volunteer drivers, we’ve got vehicles and able-bodied people and we can take certain precautions ourselves and make sure these senior citizens continue to get their meals,” Merry said.

Among the regular volunteers still making deliveries is 72-year-old Jeff Pidot of Brunswick. He normally delivers to clients in Bath and said Meals on Wheels is the only way these residents have access to sufficient food.

“The need is great and the need is even greater at times like this because people can’t get out and in some cases, the person who delivers the meal (through Meals on Wheels) may be the only person the person being served has any contact with,” he said.

While he may be in the high-risk pool himself due to his age, he’s keeping his distance from those receiving meals and doesn’t believe the service poses a danger.

“Someone is going to have to do this work because otherwise, the clients will suffer terribly,” he said Friday. “There’s great value and minimal risk.”

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