COVINGTON, Ky. – Basketball rims and soccer posts have been removed and playground equipment has been blocked off.
The City of Covington effectively banned sports and many other recreational activities at playgrounds and parks Friday, including those owned by schools, churches and non-profit organizations.
Mayor Joe Meyer signed an executive order that prohibits the use of basketball courts, soccer fields and baseball fields as well as slides, swings and jungle gyms. It also closes shelters.
A city release said it’s necessary to limit COVID-19 spread because people have been ignoring warnings about "social distancing" and "safe usage.”
"Our families and kids are using our playgrounds in outrageous numbers, and usually that's a great problem to have," Meyer said. "But in a time when we're desperate to slow the spread of this disease, that type of use is reckless, and we simply can't allow it.”
For now, greenspace and hiking and biking paths at places like Devou Park, Riverfront Commons and the Licking River Greenway & Trail will remain open. But they will be blocked off as well if users ignore social distancing, the release said.
City officials said they were following Gov. Andy Beshear's guidance on restricting activities in parks and playgrounds.
"If you're going to a park and playing a game of basketball, you're spreading the coronavirus right now," Beshear said Thursday. "If people aren't observing social distancing, shut them down.”
The city said it hopes, in particular, to keep youth from spreading the highly contagious virus, which is especially dangerous to the elderly and people with high-risk health conditions like heart disease.
Louisville, Newport and Independence have taken similar action, the release said.
Covington Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said health officials and other leaders have expressed increasing concern about crowding at parks and playgrounds.
"I understand completely the desire for kids to get out and play (and adults to socialize), but letting them do it in close contact with each other defeats the whole purpose of social distancing and the whole reason that schools were shut down to begin with," Smith said.
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail email@example.com
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.