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CDC: Be Careful in Gyms

Coronavirus spread fast in high-intensity classes, research finds
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2021 3:33 PM CST

(Newser) – After coronavirus outbreaks at gyms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned users to be careful—while pointing out a few factors that increase the risk at fitness centers. The virus spread quickly during high-intensity workout classes at gyms in Chicago and Honolulu, the New York Times reports. For one thing, instructors often are shouting during class, the CDC research pointed out. And of course, participants are breathing heavily. The CDC found participants who tested positive might have worked out when they were infectious. "It's very important for individuals who would like to attend a gym and work out to be cognizant of what the COVID symptoms are, and to be aware that if you are feeling something that looks and feels like a COVID-19 symptom, to stay home as a precaution," said an epidemiologist who co-wrote the Chicago case study.

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At the Hawaii gym, 21 people caught the virus last summer after a cycling instructor who had COVID-19 continued teaching classes for three days, per ABC. The windows and doors were kept closed during class. Of 81 attendees in high-intensity fitness classes in Chicago, 55 came down with the virus. In both places, most participants were not wearing masks, the report said. Exercising outdoors is a better bet, the CDC said. Otherwise, the usual guidance applies: Wear a mask—millions are going to be distributed free—follow social distancing, and stay home if you detect any symptoms. Gyms should make sure they have plenty of ventilation, the CDC said. Limiting capacity at gyms is still wise, but the Chicago classes had just 10 to 15 participants. A trade group encouraging customers to return to gyms during the pandemic said: "There is never zero risk. But clubs are not the primary driver of COVID spread." (Reopening cost a New Jersey gym its license.)

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