Masks During Workouts

This morning, I went to the gym for the first time in a while. I stopped going due to a number of reasons: first, the cases were up, then I was traveling, then there was too cold and/or too much snow. Then Anna and her family were visiting.   

There were quite a bit of people even at 5-30 AM, and once again, there were people without masks (masks in the gyms are mandated only in the city). Previously, I would leave the gym in such a situation, but today, since there were more masked people than unmasked, I thought that rather than they make me uncomfortable, I would make them uncomfortable 🙂 And I succeeded, at least partially. 

I saw on their Instagram that they are planning a Member’s Appreciation Day on Saturday. I do not get how in the world they came up with this idea! Prizes! Free food! Free haircuts! Free workouts from 9 AM to 3 PM!

I will stop now and will paste here the text from today’s Tribune – see below (I know that sometimes Tribune does not show the content to non-subscribers).

From Chicago Tribune:

A Chicago gym spurred an outbreak of at least 55 COVID-19 cases over the summer after infected people attended indoor high-intensity exercise classes — including several who had already tested positive for the virus, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Wednesday.

Infrequent mask use also likely contributed to the superspreader event, which occurred over about a week of multiple group classes, said the report, which was done by the CDC and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Two of the patrons who caught COVID-19 visited the emergency room, and one was hospitalized for eight days. No deaths were reported from any of the cases linked to the gym.

The report reinforces public health guidance that mask wearing — and staying home when ill — is critical to reduce the spread of the virus, particularly during indoor group activities like exercise classes. Masks should be worn even during high-intensity exercise and when spaced 6 feet apart, according to the report.

The report also recommended virtual or online exercise classes as safer alternatives.

“To reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in fitness facilities, attendees should wear a mask, including during high-intensity activities when (more than) six feet apart,” said the report, which added that facilities should enforce physical distancing and isolation after symptoms begin. “Exercising outdoors or virtually could further reduce (virus) transmission risk.”

During the first wave of the pandemic, small businesses and solopreneurs faced new challenges in finding customers, meeting changing consumer demands, adhering to evolving…

The Chicago Department of Public Health was notified of the outbreak in early September, according to the report, which does not name the business.

Of 81 people who attended in-person exercise classes there over a weeklong period at the end of the summer, 49 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by testing and another six probable cases were cited among class attendees with COVID-19 symptoms who tested negative or did not get tested.

The classes — which were held from Aug. 24 to Sept. 1 — were capped at less than 25% capacity, roughly 10 to 15 people, according to the CDC. Class members brought their own mats and weights and were stationed more than 6 feet apart.

“Mask use, temperature checks, and symptom screenings were required on entry; however, patrons were allowed to remove masks during exercise,” the report said.

Three people attended these exercise classes “on the same day or after they received a positive test result,” the report said; others attended an exercise class on the day symptoms began or after.

During interviews about in-class behaviors, 44 attendees reported “infrequent mask use.”

One patron tested positive for COVID-19 and notified the facility on Sept. 1. By the time the city’s health department identified and began investigating the outbreak in early September, the gym had already informed all attendees about possible exposure to the virus and temporarily closed for about two weeks, according to the report.

The report said that at the time of the outbreak, businesses in Chicago were encouraged but not mandated to report COVID-19 cases. Under a revised order, “city-licensed businesses are now required to report any COVID-19–related suspension of operations and awareness of five or more confirmed COVD-19 cases among employees or patrons,” the report said.

The report does not name any of the gym patrons who were part of the review, but said 68 of them were Chicago residents. The median age of attendees was 42 years old.

The report noted that the number of positive cases linked to these exercise classes might be undercounted because public health officials had to rely on self-reporting from gym patrons.

The CDC also encouraged gyms to take precautions like improve building ventilation, enforce proper mask use and remind patrons and employees to stay home and observe quarantine guidance after symptom onset or possible infection.

“The increased respiratory exertion that occurs in the enclosed spaces of indoor exercise facilities facilitates transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in these settings,” the report said. “To reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in exercise facilities, employees and patrons should wear a mask, even during high-intensity activities when more than six feet apart.”

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