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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.

Homeless Return To Shelters And Streets After Convention Center COVID Housing

Welcome House of Northern Kentucky
From March 21 to April 4, 139 homeless adults stayed at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center because it was a place they could socially distance during the pandemic.

Imagine being homeless during the coronavirus and being shuffled around from place to place. Like so many other parts of the country, it happened in Northern Kentucky. But at least one person was able to find stable housing, all while working and without a car.

"Thats really a testament to the obstacles that people face," Executive Director of the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky Kim Webb says. "The rest are simply living outside right now."

Even while Webb was sick at home in the middle of March, she was busy arranging for her guests, as she calls them, to stay at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. The Emergency Shelter wasn't big enough for social distancing. Ultimately, they moved from the convention center to a hotel in Wilder, Ky., and then either back to the shelter or the streets.

"On that Friday that we closed the Emergency Shelter on the 12th or 13th of March, I remembered watching them. We had given them as many blankets as they wanted. We loaded them up, whatever we had in the shelter, and they walked away happy and smiling and said we'll see you in a little bit."

Webb says she's not sure she could be that gracious.

At the convention center, the homeless were socially distanced as WVXU previously reported. And until April 4, it housed 138 adults. But Webb says there was a possibility the convention center could become a field hospital, and she decided they should move to a  hotel. The one in Wilder took 39 of them.

Now most are back out on the streets and Webb is looking ahead to the new location for the Emergency Shelter. When it's finished by the end of the year, it can hold 75 people post COVID-19. If the virus is still a problem, it will be something less than that number.

The new location is 436 W. Thirteenth Street in Covington.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.