Maskless Gym-Goers Tied To COVID Outbreaks: CDC Study

A pair of recent studies from the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention found that gyms can be super spreader locations for COVID-19 when patrons don't wear masks of practice social distancing.

The reports cite two coronavirus outbreaks tied to gyms in Chicago and Hawaii. In Chicago, 60% of attendees at high-intensity classes contracted COVID-19 following their workouts. Researchers said that 22 people attended the classes on or after the day that their symptoms began. They found that 76% of the attendees wore masks infrequently, including 84% of those who had COVID-19 at the time.

In Hawaii, health officials linked 21 cases to a fitness instructor who taught classes over three days at two gyms in Honolulu. The instructor was asymptomatic at the time. A few hours before experiencing symptoms, the instructor led a cycling class in which none of the participants wore masks. Everybody in the class, including another instructor, tested positive for COVID-19.

The CDC said in both reports that it is imperative for people working out at gyms to wear masks at all times, even while engaged in high-intensity workouts.

"To reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in fitness facilities, staff members and patrons should wear a mask, and facilities should implement engineering and administrative controls including improving ventilation, enforcing physical distancing and consistent and correct mask use (even during high-intensity activities), increasing opportunities for hand hygiene, and reminding all patrons and staff members to stay home when ill," the CDC wrote in its report.

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