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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.

Local Homeless Shelters Start Prepping For Coronavirus

Tana Weingartner
One of the dorm rooms at City Gospel Mission's shelter in Queensgate.

Local homeless shelters are preparing for possible exposure to coronavirus. City Gospel Mission President Roger Howell says his staff met Tuesday morning to start planning.

"A homeless shelter (has) a very vulnerable population, so we are very concerned about that. We are not going to close down our shelter or stop our programs." Howell says, "We are going to do everything we can to prevent the spread and quarantine people if they seem to have flu-like symptoms."

City Gospel offers homeless a place to stay and job placement programs, along with drug and alcohol rehab and counseling.

He says the mission and its in-house programs are starting to develop policies and procedures. If Cincinnati is hit hard by an outbreak they could tell older volunteers to stay home. "Almost every night of the year we have a volunteer group bring in the meal, so we're going to have some back up. (But) we're going to have to have a little more preparation in the same style.... a little bit more often."

Howell says in the meantime, he's encouraging frequent hand washing among volunteers, staff and clients.

"Our mission is to help people get back on their feet and we’re not going to panic but we are going to take this whole threat very seriously and do our very best to prevent our population from getting it or spreading it."

Howell says he's been talking with other homeless shelters and Strategies To Prevent Homelessness about prepping for the coronavirus. He says for now there's no magic bullet to stop the virus.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.