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CDC report: 68% of people who exercised indoors at one Chicago gym contracted COVID-19

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(NEXSTAR) – A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that some indoor exercise facilities may have trouble preventing the spread of COVID-19 among exercisers.

The report studied a single Chicago gym in August 2020 and found that out of 81 attendees of indoor high-intensity classes, 55 people fell sick with COVID-19 — or 68 percent.

Twenty-two of those infected attended classes on or after the day symptoms began, and most attendees (76 percent) wore masks infrequently, including persons with (84 percent) and without COVID-19 (60 percent).

The gym appeared to be following most public health protocols. All classes were held at 25 percent capacity or less, and mask use, temperature checks and symptom screenings were required on entry. Exercisers were stationed six feet apart and brought their own equipment.

Here’s the catch: Patrons were allowed to remove masks during exercise.

“After receiving notification of a COVID-19 case in one of its patrons, the exercise facility closed and informed all attendees of possible COVID-19 exposure,” the CDC said.

The CDC said it attributes the outbreak to “the high proportion of attendees with COVID-19 who participated in class while symptomatic, or asymptomatic and infectious.”

The report underlines the need for “combined COVID-19 prevention strategies,” including mask use in public settings, testing of symptomatic persons, self-isolation after symptom onset or a positive test result and quarantining of persons who have been exposed to COVID-19.

While data on transmission of COVID-19 in exercise facilities is limited, past outbreak reports indicate that increased respiratory exertion may facilitate transmission.

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