Local coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S. for the past several months have mostly been linked to religious services and meatpacking plants. Now you can add a national gym chain to the list of places where you can be in danger of catching the virus.
That’s because a Planet Fitness user in Morgantown, West Virginia reportedly exposed more than 200 people to COVID-19, according to Business Insider. That could lead people to rethink the idea of whether it’s actually safe to go the gym as the pandemic continues.
According to the Monongalia County Health Department, a Planet Fitness client who used the gym on June 24 later tested positive for the coronavirus. The health department said that the approximate 205 people who attended the gym that day between 9am and 3pm should go into quarantine for the next 14 days.
That particular location was closed for a deep cleaning, and it will reportedly reopen on June 30. The company said it didn’t know of anybody else who was at the gym during that time who has experienced symptoms.
“We will continue to take every necessary precaution to ensure the safety of our community, and we have taken a number of steps across all of our locations, which include enhanced cleanliness and sanitization policies and procedures, extensive training for staff, physical distancing measures, reducing physical touch points in the club with touchless check-in, and more,” Planet Fitness said in a statement, via CNN.
As noted by Fox 10, West Virginia allowed gyms to reopen on May 18 with 40% occupancy, though locker rooms and showers were to remain closed and off limits. In March, fitness dance classes in South Korea were blamed for more than 100 COVID-19 infections.
Though many gym chains throughout the country have tried to implement social distancing while continuously cleaning high-touch equipment, working out at a public gym could lead to transmission, especially since heavy breathing would more easily spread the respiratory droplets that lead to infection.
“When you have a relatively high density of people exercising and sweating in a contained space, you have conditions where communicable diseases can spread easily,” Dr. James Voos, the chairman of orthopedic surgery at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, told the New York Times in May.
As of June 29, West Virginia ranked No. 45 in coronavirus cases in the U.S. with 2,870. Ninety-three people in the state have died from COVID-19.