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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Cincinnati Restaurants To Get A Boost During Pandemic Winter

To help bars and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cincinnati is launching a program to keep the businesses sustained during the winter months.

The Taste of Cincinnati All Winter Long program will allow restaurants to receive up to $10,000 for whatever expenses a bar or restaurant deems necessary to stay open. The city recommends for the businesses to use the funds to ensure COVID safety, such as buying PPE.

Businesses that use the money provided will have to stay open at least five days and 25 hours a week. The bars and restaurants will also have to offer a food or beverage discount to patrons.

Mayor John Cranley says helping bars and restaurants will do a "huge amount of good" for the communities they're located in.

"The amount of money we'll have to spend if we lose all of these bars and restaurants to catch back up will cost us years," Cranley said.

Nation Kitchen and Bar owner Andrew Salzbrun said the program gives the business in Westwood hope.

"We have a big fight in front of us coming up in the next few months, but we are super confident that we are going to get through this," Salzbrun said. "We're excited to be not only a part of this community of Westwood, but also a part of this city that we call home."

This program launched the same day Ohio reported its highest number of single day hospitalizations. Cranley said the city's contract tracing hasn't shown significant spread through restaurants.

"It's been my personal experience that the restaurants are safe and I feel safe going to the restaurants and will continue to do so," Cranley said. "Having said that, if you're listening to this and you've got a comorbidity and other issues, I think you've got to make what's the best decision for you and your family."

Research from the CDC says that adults with COVID-19 were twice as likely to eat at restaurants. Cincinnati's positivity rate is currently at 2.7%.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.