Community banks remain strong during COVID-19 Pandemic

March 23, 2020

Today we face an invisible enemy, the threat of a global pandemic. We pray for an effective vaccine for COVID-19 and for the swift recovery of its victims.

As community bankers, we have a duty to safeguard the modern economy and the millions of people who rely upon it — our friends, neighbors, communities, and loved ones. A responsibility we accept every day without hesitation.

The top priority of Ohio’s community banks is to protect the financial health and well-being of our employees, our customers, our communities, and every Ohioan. To that end, we have taken significant safety measures, such as expanded drive-thru banking hours and lanes and assigned tellers to meet the increased demand. While it is also our responsibility to keep our customers and employees healthy, we have made special arrangements for those who still depend on personalized banking services.

Community banks continue to work around the clock to implement pandemic protocols, which address not only hygiene and cleanliness, testing procedures and sick leave compensation, but also ensure customers maintain access to vital banking services.

But our responsibilities do not end there. Every day that our shops, restaurants and small businesses are closed, families and communities face economic peril. Layoffs rise and incomes decline. Communities are being hit hard. Those who escape the pandemic may still be devastated by economic uncertainty.

Communities, like people, must be kept healthy. As we have done so many times in the past when our communities have faced peril, we show extraordinary flexibility to the small-business borrowers; for example, by waiving certain fees or modifying repayment plans, due dates, or lengthening lines of credit to ease the pain of temporary layoffs.

Technology has empowered depositors to use our extensive online resources and to move to electronic banking and card-based transactions. We understand that the transition may not be smooth and seamless. Many small-town customers are more comfortable banking in person. But we are eager to help.

The pandemic has been especially hard on the elderly. Many feel isolated as they “self-quarantine.” Their comfort and convenience are our concern. They must have access to banking services and the reassurance that their money is safe. It is heartwarming to learn the extent to which our community banks are working to support older Ohioans. The Federal Deposit Insurance Fund backstop remains strong, safeguarding our elderly and all our customers’ deposits.

Long before the shutdown, as the crisis began to unfold, we were in contact with federal regulatory agencies. We sought to ensure that we could take bold measures to lessen the pain. In fact, they’ve encouraged it.

Bank examiners understand the need for flexibility. If they’re kept informed, they are willing to extend flexibility to community bankers to meet customers’ needs as they see fit. 

As community banks we are taking extraordinary steps in these extraordinary times. But we remain focused on the very personal service that community banks are known for. Every person has their own story and their own needs. We never forget that.

I encourage consumers who have questions to call their local community bank directly. Working together, as Ohioans, we will get through this crisis. Together in the past we have overcome nature’s community banks will show human nature at its best.

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About CBAO

The Community Bankers Association of Ohio (CBAO) is the financial trade association exclusively representing Ohio’s community bank and thrift institutions. The Community Bankers Association of Ohio (CBAO) is organized to establish and maintain an informed network of independent community banks in the state of Ohio that will have the influence and commitment to effectively serve, protect and promote the interests of its members. 

For Media Inquiries:
Robert L. Palmer
President & Chief Executive Officer
Community Bankers Association of Ohio, CBAO-IA, CBAO-SC
(614) 846-2349 l