Covington won't open city pools this summer because of COVID-19

'Quarter-of-a-million-dollar gamble,' city official says
Posted at 1:32 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 13:34:43-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

COVINGTON, Ky. - City officials decided not to sink or swim in effectively canceling the summer pool season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rather than take what Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith called a “quarter-of-a-million-dollar gamble,” the Board of Commissioners decided this week against extending the annual contract for the operations and management of the City's two pools and its water park/splash pad.

“With no guarantee that we could salvage even part of what is already a short swim season, that's a huge investment of money and staff time that would in all likelihood be wasted,” Smith said in making the recommendation.

Thousands of kids typically flock to the City's two full-length pools - Goebel Pool near MainStrasse Village and Randolph Park in Eastside - and to the Latonia Water Park & Splash Pad. The pool season usually runs from around Memorial Day to mid-August, the city said in a release.

The one-year contract extension would have cost the city $186,050, officials said. But that doesn't count the internal cost of staff time and materials required to get the pools ready.

In a normal year, work would be already be under way, with the contractor hiring 35 seasonal employees and the City's Public Works Department prepping the pools, according to Parks and Facilities Supervisor Brad Schwenke.

However, public pools would not be permitted to open as long as COVID-19 is considered a threat and social distancing and stay-at-home orders remain in effect. According to the release, 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.

Three weeks ago, the City took the unprecedented step of effectively banning sports and many other recreational activities at playgrounds and parks, including those owned by schools, churches and non-profit organizations.

Covington Parks & Recreation Manager Rosie Santos called this week's decision disappointing but necessary. Santos said her department would search for programs and activities to offer residents.

"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."

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
  • 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.