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COVID-19 Drains Covington's Pool Season: No Swimming this Summer

The City of Covington announced on Thursday that it will not open its two city pools or its one splash pad/water park this season.

On Tuesday, the city commission decided not to move forward with issuing the annual contract for operations and management of the pools in the Eastside and Mainstrasse Village, or the splash pad/water park in Latonia.

Current restrictions on businesses and social gatherings and not knowing when they will be loosened prompted the decision.

"What with the contract and staff time, we'd be making close to a quarter-of-a-million-dollar gamble with no guarantee that we could salvage even part of what is already a short swim season," Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said in making the recommendation. "That's a huge investment of money and staff time that would in all likelihood be wasted."

The commission had been asked to approve a one-year contract extension at a cost of $186,050 before the internal cost of staff time and materials to prepare the swim season, which traditionally runs from around Memorial Day to mid-August.

In a normal year, work would be under way now, including the contractor hiring 35 seasonal employees and the city's public works department doing everything from firing up the pumps to installing new chlorine lines and calibrating the chlorinators to filling the pools and arranging for health inspections, said Parks and Facilities Supervisor Brad Schwenke.

"It's a lot of work," he said.

Health experts and computer models generally agree that the peak of the coronavirus in Kentucky is at least a couple of weeks away and that the illness will remain a serious concern for months - with the possibility of a second wave later in the summer.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread in properly maintained pools given that chlorine should make the virus inactive. However, the danger is in the contact among the groups of people that pools attract, a news release from the city said.

Covington Parks & Recreation Manager Rosie Santos called the decision to cancel the summer swim season disappointing but necessary.

She said that her department would continue to search for ways to offer programs and activities.

"We learn more every day about the lasting impacts of this crisis and continue to look for opportunities to bring fun, wellness and connectivity to Covington residents and visitors, but health and safety is our primary goal." Santos said. "We will get through this and look forward to a time in the near future where we can be together again, enjoying our parks and recreation services."

-Staff report