Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley predicts dire consequences for city services without federal aid

Cuts in police and fire, elimination of parks and recreation
Posted at 3:22 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 21:02:07-04

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.

CINCINNATI - Mayor John Cranley gave his bleakest assessment yet Monday of the city's ability to maintain services under the COVID-19 health emergency.

"There's no way Cincinnati or Columbus or any city can survive or thrive if our local government suffers a catastrophic loss of revenue that we're all projecting right now," Cranley said, noting that the city projects an $80 million deficit in the next fiscal year starting in July and a $15 million to $20 million deficit in the months leading up to that.

"Police and fire will be laid off across the country if we don't get assistance from the federal government," Cranley said, citing a Columbus Dispatch article. "The City of Cincinnati at the current time doesn't believe that is necessary for us. That's based on an $80 million deficit. But the cuts that are required to meet an $80 million deficit are devastating."

Whether or not there would be police or fire layoffs here, Cranley said there would be "diminishment" of those services without an infusion of federal funds.

Cranley said parks and recreation funding could be eliminated completely along with such things as yard waste pickup.

"And that's not the kind of city any of us wants to live in," Cranley said.

WATCH Monday's briefing:

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley predicts dire consequences for city services without federal aid

Cranley cited a Brookings Institution study predicting dire consequences for Cincinnati and three other Ohio cities. It names Columbus and Cincinnati as 1-2 among U.S. cities "most likely to be devastated financially," with Dayton and Cleveland also in the top five.

Cranley said he and other mayors across the country are calling on the federal government to distribute its next round of emergency funds to cities and towns on a per-capita basis, calling that fair. Cranley said he has reached out to Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. Steve Chabot and Rep. Brad Wenstrup for support.

Cranley said the city did not receive any federal dollars in the first round due to its population size. City Manager Patrick Duhaney said the city has already spent between $4 million and $5 million in expenses related to COVID-19.

Cranley said Columbus and Cincinnati have the fastest growing economies in the state and are the only two Ohio cities projecting a population growth in the 2020 Census, so heavy damage to those city budgets would be a huge blow to the state as well.

"It is this metropolitan, urban growth that will fuel all of Ohio's growth," Cranley said.

In other announcements:

  • City yard waste pickup will resume May 4. The program had been delayed to June due to COVID-19, but the mayor said staff was moved around to speed up its return. Be sure to check the rules and limits on the city's website.
  • Greater Cincinnati Water Works has set up 24 trailers if it becomes necessary to house staff on site at the Water Treatment Facility on Kellogg Avenue. The city has guaranteed water and sewer service would not be interrupted during the health crisis.
  • Health Commissioner Melba Moore announced 14 more positive cases since last week, raising the city's total to 276. There have been eight deaths, 89 hospitalizations and 98 recoveries. See all the city data here.
  • Asked if he thinks Ohio is ready to reopen starting May 1, Cranley said: "Based on my conversations, I'm relatively confident that the state is going to reopen slowly and safely." He said that would "prolong the economic pain," but "I don't think there's going to be a radical opening on May 1." He called on state leaders to provide clear guidelines and said "big picture" a full opening would first require a vaccine and tests for everyone. He cited "mass testing, mass contact tracing and isolation of people who are sick" as requirements. Cranley called on the federal government to require "Dow or DuPont or whoever needs to make that thing" to mass produce the reagent liquid needed for tests as soon as possible.

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.