LIMA —Kay Poling, of Lima, is a regular at the bingo games at the Lima American Legion. It’s something that gives her a bit of normalcy during the pandemic.
”It’s a little scary thinking about things going around, but I got to have some fun and we try to be safe,” Poling said.
Leonard Truex, who is just shy of his 90th birthday, and in his younger days was a track star at Ohio State, enjoys coming to bingo.
“I used to go up to the senior citizens center to play ping pong, but I had a stroke a couple of years ago and that slowed me up a little bit but I can still play bingo,” Truex said.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio has exploded and that’s putting everyone in jeopardy. There’s talk of stricter measures coming for bars, restaurants and fitness centers.
How far these measures go is a big question for organizations like American Legion Post 96 in Lima.
“They’ve got an officer out here that checks on everybody so as long as their temperatures are good and they wear the mask it’s safe,” Truex said.
On Fridays and Sundays, the Legion hosts charitable bingo games, attracting up to 100 people. Now there’s some uncertainty over whether they’ll be able to continue offering the event.
It all depends on what Governor Mike DeWine says this week about possible new restrictions.
“We’re going to wait and see what goes from there if everything gets shut down,” said Todd Barnhill, who runs the bingo operation at the American Legion.
Barnhill, missed the Friday and Sunday night Bingo games because he has been in self-quarantine since two of his buddies in a Wednesday night dart outing tested positive for COVID-19.
“I told the people at American Legion I’m quarantining myself, I can’t be around a group of people. I’m not going to try. I’m not going to damage anything over to bingo. I got to stay away. I got to quarantine myself because I’m just following the guidelines,” Barnhill said.
The bingo games started back up in July after shutting down in the spring.
The American Legion is abiding by current Ohio Health Department guidelines.
“We put two chairs per table and they’re spaced out. We can house a whole bunch but now we’ve cut it down to where we can have up to maybe 100 in there,” Barnhill said. “We make sure everybody’s wearing a mask. We have a security officer there that does temperature checks and makes sure everybody is wearing a mask. If anybody’s up walking around without a mask, we go up and tell them to get one on right away. We’ve been a little bit lenient (in the past), but now as the numbers are up, if you’re not wearing masks we’re going to ask you to leave.”
Poling hopes the bingo games can continue, but understands if they can’t.
“Well, I hate to see it but if that’s what it takes to get the virus under control, we’ve got to do it because it’s getting
worse,” Poling said.
Barnhill says they are exploring the possibility of doing virtual Bingo if they do get shut down.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.