Before the coronavirus pandemic emerged, Chasity Rodgers Dunn had big plans for her son Jonah’s first birthday.

A venue had been picked for the celebration. Dozens of relatives were eager to attend.

Of course, concerns over the spread of the viral respiratory illness COVID-19 led to the scuttling of nearly everyone’s best-laid plans for the foreseeable future, including Jonah’s first birthday party.

Dunn adapted to the circumstances, and the family celebrated as scheduled Wednesday, but at a distance.

Dunn, her husband, Mitchell Dunn Jr., and their three children opened the doors of their home to her parents for Jonah’s birthday, but everyone else who wanted to be part of the celebration was left to do so through a Facebook live video stream, part of a virtual birthday party that brought a lot of love Jonah’s way.

Picking up the birthday cake at Riley’s Bakery, Dunn said she was leaving nothing to chance while the virus remained a threat.

“I’ve told everybody to put their gifts on the porch and wipe everything down,” Dunn said.

A stay-at-home mother, Dunn admitted the pandemic has made for some stressful moments that have disrupted the family’s daily routine.

Her daughter and stepson are in high school and are continuing their classes online, and Dunn has had to strike a balance between helping them when she can and caring for Jonah while her husband continues working as a loan officer at BB&T, where only one customer is currently allowed at any time in the branch where he works.

“She’s been great at taking care of the family and making sure the kids’ homework is up to par,” Mitchell Dunn said. “Our situation isn’t perfect, but I think it’s about the best you can ask for now.”

Chasity Dunn said the internet has helped her weather the pandemic by allowing her to keep in touch with loved ones.

In addition to organizing the virtual birthday party, she started a Facebook group that lets her extended family stay in contact.

“In that way, I think this has brought people together,” Dunn said.

As part of the birthday celebration, Dunn created a Gmail account for Jonah and had family members send well-wishes and encouraging messages to the address. When Jonah turns 16, Dunn said she will give him the password to the account.

“I hope in the future, things calm down,” Dunn said. “I just hope for him things get better than what you’re seeing right now.”

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit

— Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit


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