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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.

OTR Senior Center Closed Due To COVID, Not Finances, Organization Says

Courtesy of OTR Senior Center
Seniors in OTR and other parts of the Tri-State are looking forward to coming back and socializing. The OTR Senior Center CASS operates is closed and of the seven it serves meals at, only the Anderson Township Senior Center is open.

The organization that runs the Over-the-Rhine Senior Center wants the community to know the only reason the center is closed is because of COVID-19. Just two years ago financial problems threatened to shut it down.

CEO of Cincinnati Area Senior Services (CASS) Tracey Collins thought about reopening the OTR Senior Centerthis summer after the order that closed it was lifted. But she says COVID restrictions made it virtually impossible given the size of the center.  She would essentially have to choose who could come and who would have to stay home.

Restrictions limit the number of seniors who can be transported, as well as the number who can come to the center, and also prohibit close contact activities like game playing and trips.

"It's really frustrating because we have fought so hard to keep that center open but because of the pandemic and because of the restrictions we can't open because of the current and existing rules," she says.

CASS is still able to deliver meals to center participants and call them weekly. 

Credit CASS
Some of the regulars at the OTR Senior Center before it was shut down by COVID.

"They keep saying, 'When will this be over? When can we come back?' They like talking to us on the phone. They want to see everybody."

Before the pandemic more than 100 seniors would be in and out of the building in a given week. Collins tells them to be patient and they can come back when the pandemic blows over.

Other Hamilton County senior centers have tried to reopen but have closed because of COVID outbreaks. The only one that remains open is in Anderson Township.

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