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A camper plays Minecraft at the Danvers YMCA Summer Camp in Danvers, Massachusetts, earlier this month. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

The financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing YMCAs across the U.S. to close their doors.

Why it matters: In many communities, the local YMCA is a vital resource for youth in need of after-school activities, organized sports and summer camps. Local chapters also serve as food pantries and shelters during crises.

Driving the news: This week, the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities in Minnesota said it will close fitness centers in St. Paul, Lino Lakes and Prior Lake, and the organization is considering repurposing them as "community hubs," the StarTribune reports.

  • The Y in West Dallas also announced its closure, per the Dallas CBS affiliate. The closest Y location is 6 miles away, which is too far for children to travel after school or for families without cars.
  • The pandemic sped up the closure of a YMCA building in New Haven, Connecticut, which had been open since 1971, and was in need of expensive renovations. The community center is trying to build a new location, but has a long approval process ahead, per the New Haven Register.
  • In May, three Chicago-area Ys closed permanently due to the "enormous strain" from the coronavirus outbreak, per NBC5 Chicago.

Background: Many YMCAs were already struggling financially before the outbreak due to declining membership and increasing costs of maintaining old buildings.

What they're saying: "I'm very concerned, because like most nonprofits, most of our YMCAs don't have significant reserves," YMCA CEO Kevin Washington recently told Time. "We're sure that there will be some YMCAs that will not be able to survive."

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.