Dayton's Road to Pandemic Recovery

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We've been taking a look around the country at how different cities or dealing with the fallout from the pandemic. Today we head to Dayton Ohio unlike other places Dayton hasn't been a hot spot for the coronavirus and the death toll has been low but the pandemic is just the latest in a series of struggles. The city has faced in the past year our reporter Doug Belkin visited the city recently and joins me now Doug Dayton Ohio has been through a lot in recent years even before the pandemic from natural disasters to rising numbers of deaths the OPIOID crisis. Can you tell us a little? Bit more about the position Dayton was in before the pandemic it. It's a fascinating town. It really punched above. Its weight for a long time. Many years ago it was a home of a lot of innovation. The Wright brothers came from there there are a lot of major manufacturing companies and engineering companies that really employed thousands of people and built a Beautiful City in the early twentieth century. The housing stock is really lovely. But it fell on hard times. A lot of those companies moved south to chase cheaper labor and the revenue into the city declined significantly and then they had really hard shock. The financial crisis in two thousand and seven and eight pulled a lot of jobs out that didn't return and then the opiate crisis that was really ground zero. It's a lot of highways going in and out of Dayton and it made it a kind of a pitstop for these drugs and they were just hundreds and over the years. Thousands of people who overdosed from opioids. So they were very hard and then last summer they had a string of horrible tragedies. They had a tornado that wiped out part of the town and killed people they had A mass shooting in downtown shopping district that killed nine people and injured another twenty people and they had a Klu Klux Klan rally Which really hard for the people there so last year was very difficult moment for them and all of that brings us up now to the pandemic and Ohio responded to the coronavirus pandemic with one of the nation's strictest lockdowns how has the corona virus now impacted Dayton and our elected officials grappling with it so the virus itself has not taken deep root there the shutdown or have been very effective or at least the pandemic did not make huge inroads. There's been about fifteen people who've died in Dayton of a city of one hundred forty thousand six hundred confirmed cases so the sickness has been. You know it's the specter has there but the fear was a major problem in the shutdown and the economic implications of the shutdown have been dramatic. And what we wrote about in the story was a lot of of what that's done to the economy to the people in the town to the churches in the town and even to the revenue of the city. And how they're gonNA deal with it and how they're sort of handcuffed because they will have less revenue to keep their social safety net strong so we spoke to the mayor of the City Nan. Whaley WHO's trying to lead the community through this and this is what she had to say. And when since we all become mayors because you can see directly the impact you make you get to make decisions and you have this control but the more you do it the more you realize the less control you really have. So what she's talking about here is the fact that these these tragedies that happened last summer in the pandemic it's going on now are all national and international issues. The handgun issue is a national problem. The racism issue that the KKK was part of is obviously a national issue tornadoes. That came through As part of the change in climate and this pandemic as part of a global problem and one thing that they all have in common that the mayor belief is that the federal response has not been robust enough to help cities and towns and they are ending up dealing with these problems by themselves with much smaller resources than the federal government. Has IT Doug? You also spoke to members of the Dayton community. What did you hear from them about how they're coping right now? So a lot of folks were really knocked back on their heels by the shutdown A lot of business owners you know. Obviously they shut down their businesses and they were concerned that they wouldn't be able to restart them and a lot of folks were laid off from their jobs. I spoke to one woman named bridget. Hadn't who has had to dig into her children's college savings account to get by these last few months. And here's bridget. I think this is going to Their their futures. They're gonNA come out of this with a lot of debt Things that they shouldn't have to endure at their ages. I planned for this. I planned in plan for this so that they wouldn't have to do this and now I'm giving into their college funds just to be able to survive day to day and we know that the people around the country are digging into their children's college savings account to get through these periods of unemployment. This is a national issue. And it's it's playing out in Dayton along with everyone else and a big question that all of us are grappling with now is what happens next when the pandemic is over and and what does our new normal look like. Here's mayor naturally again in what she had to say about that. I do think during the tragedies of Dayton last year I did feel the region really come together to support the city. The city center which was very special. I worry that that could go away. Because of the WACO vid puts people in their corner really fast both politically and like literally in the corner. You know in their home. Dave chapelle lives in that area. The wonderful comedian and he gave a show after the the mass shooting to help bring the community together and to heal the community and one thing that the mayor said was that that's not possible now. People can't gather here show so she asked. How do you heal a community? That's gone

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