Hospitals, gyms readying for reopening by addressing COVID health precautions

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: June 10, 2020 10:42 AM

Minnesota gyms, entertainment venues and restaurants are welcoming guests back indoors Wednesday morning. They are doing this with safety precautions as health officials say we could see a surge in COVID-19 cases.


St. Luke's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Van Deelen said the recent data across the state shows a slow trend down in the number of deaths, positive cases, and hospitalized patients. Van Deelen said COVID-19 is a hard disease to predict, but with more and more activity in the community,  we may see a surge.

With the gradual reopening of the economy and more outdoor activity with recent protests, health experts are monitoring COVID-19 numbers closely and say the data may look a bit different in a few weeks.

Van Deelen said health experts will learn important things with the recent outdoor activities on how easily the disease is passed on outdoors. He said indoor settings are much more contagious.

"We're prepared for a surge. We hope it doesn't happen, we would expect to see some increase in cases based on the relaxation of the shutdown orders and yet we don't know what that will really look like," said Van Deelen.

Van Deelen went on to say he would be surprised if we didn't see some degree of surge based on the activities from the last two weeks. He added that it does make health professionals nervous that things are reopening but understands that the economy needs to move forward.

Businesses reopening like Anytime Fitness are excited to welcome members back after being closed for almost three months but are aware some won't feel comfortable going back to the gym right away.

"There are some members that said they didn't feel comfortable coming back just yet and that's totally fine. We are letting those members freeze their account for the time being because we want everyone that comes in the doors to feel comfortable," said Lewie Welch, the regional manager for Anytime Fitness.

Welch said they've put a lot of thought into safely reopening and are taking the measures needed to keep everyone safe by doing things like adding extra sanitizer. Anytime Fitness locations in Wisconsin reopened a few weeks ago and he said they've taken extra precautions to keep everyone safe and are applying that to the gyms reopening in Minnesota. 

"We blocked off every other piece of cardio equipment for social distancing. We are at that 25 percent capacity so with that we have our online scheduling system. Members can go online to get signed up for a time at the gym which helps us control how many people are gonna be in here throughout the day," said Welch.

Van Deelen said the guidance of our state leaders in slowly reopening has allowed hospitals to stock up on supplies and planning efforts to keep patients and staff safe in case a surge happens.

"I think we are very fortunate. I think it's a result of good planning and good leadership and I think that we are far better prepared than we would have been two or three months ago," said Van Deelen.


Alejandra Palacios

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