Norwalk LA Fitness ordered to close after violating reopening rules

NORWALK — Norwalk’s LA Fitness location was ordered to close on Tuesday after health officials found members weren’t wearing masks or adhering to social distancing while exercising.

The facility also failed to enforce revised capacity limits, according to Norwalk Health Director Deanna D’Amore. Gyms are currently supposed to be operating at 50 percent capacity.

D’Amore said both the city health and police departments signed a closure order due to repeated violations of reopening rules.

“Staff and patrons were cooperative and left the premises as they work to correct these issues,” D’Amore said.

The gym must submit a written COVID-19 safety plan outlining how it will adhere to the rules before it’s allowed to reopen, D’Amore said. The facility can reopen once the plan is reviewed and approved by the health department.

On Tuesday night, the club had a notice posted on its website stating it would be closed from 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 4 due to a “national emergency.”

The closure comes a day after Gov. Ned Lamont said he would not close gyms or indoor dining despite rising coronavirus case numbers.

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Norwalk Returns To Phase 2 Reopening As Coronavirus Cases Rise

NORWALK, CT — Norwalk is reverting to Phase 2 reopening efforts, as the city grapples with a continued rise in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, Mayor Harry Rilling announced Thursday. The rollback will take effect at noon on Nov. 1 to allow businesses to prepare.

The city was placed on red alert status last week by Gov. Ned Lamont and state health officials, due to Norwalk exceeding 15 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. The number of red alert communities in Connecticut now stands at 30, up from 19 last week, according to the state.

At that time, the city’s rate of infection was 18.9 new coronavirus cases per 100,000, but that number more than doubled to 40.5 and then to 48.9 per 100,000 between Oct. 18 and Oct. 24. Norwalk also reported its first coronavirus-related deaths this week, after more than three weeks without one.

To date, 151 Norwalk residents have died as a result of the virus.

This week, Rilling has been under quarantine due to exposure to a family member who tested positive for COVID-19. The mayor has tested negative twice since then.

As of Thursday, 54 new coronavirus cases were reported in Norwalk, bringing the city’s total to 2,984 since the pandemic began in March, according to health officials. No new deaths were reported.

The city was at Phase 3 reopening, which meant restaurants, personal services, gatherings and sporting events could operate at 75 percent capacity. On Nov. 1, that number rolls back to 50 percent.

Additionally, Phase 2 also calls for:

  • Private gatherings to drop from 100 people to 25 people indoors, and 150 people to 100 people outdoors

  • Religious gatherings to decrease from up to 200 people to a maximum of 100 people indoors

“This is a difficult decision, as I do not want to see our local businesses impacted, but my priority remains the health and safety of our residents,” Rilling said. “Our cases are rising, and I am deeply concerned. We are now seeing increased cases for those over 70 years of age, and we know this population is at higher risk of serious illness and death from this virus.”

The city will host another free, drive-thru coronavirus testing session on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the parking lot at Norwalk Community College on Richards Avenue.

“We have ramped up testing to try to slow this virus down, but it continues to spread rapidly, as people are not following all public health guidelines,” Rilling said. “Residents must take this seriously. Please, stay home if you can, limit travel and errands whenever possible, and always wear a face covering in public.”

This article originally appeared on the Norwalk Patch

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Stamford Returning To Phase 2 Reopening As Coronavirus Cases Rise

STAMFORD, CT — Mayor David Martin announced Thursday the city will return to “phase 2” of reopening following an increase in cases of the coronavirus in the city and across the state.

According to the state health department’s COVID-19 data tracker, Stamford is now at 15.6 cases per 100,000, qualifying the city as a “red zone,” Martin said in a news release.

The city also recently received data from the Wastewater Early Detection Program indicating the highest levels of COVID-19 residue in Stamford’s wastewater since the program began in August, Martin said.

See also: High Virus Concentrations Found In Stamford, Bridgeport Sewage

“This is a difficult decision,” Martin said in a statement, “but every indicator we’re monitoring suggests we’re at the beginning of a second wave. Unfortunately, this means we must change our behavior immediately.”

Martin also emphasized the urgency of residents increasing their caution as the city transitions back to phase 2.

(To sign up for Stamford breaking news alerts and more, click here.)

“This second wave is no longer speculative or a possibility, it is happening right now,” Martin said. “There is no feasible way to get our community and economy close to normal if everyone is getting sick. I am reluctant to make this decision because I know how it will impact our businesses and community, but the city of Stamford must rollback to phase 2 as soon as possible.”

Similar to phase 3, residents are required to maintain 6 feet of distance from others, wash or sanitize their hands frequently and wear either a mask or a face covering that covers both their nose and mouth.

The following restrictions are also in place under phase 2:

A full list of restrictions during phase 2, including specific guidelines for various businesses and establishments, can be found on the city website.

According to Jennifer Calder, the city’s director of health, the best defense against this virus is to avoid getting infected and avoid activities that could lead to infection.

“Any interaction with individuals outside your household puts you at risk,” Calder said in a statement. “This is especially true now as we report more cases per day. While many residents are fatigued of health and safety guidelines, unfortunately the virus does not get fatigued and will continue to spread if we let it.”

Residents can monitor daily coronavirus cases by visiting the state health department’s COVID-19 data tracker.

This article originally appeared on the Stamford Patch

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GoodLife Fitness defends email asking for re-opening support

A chain of gyms in Ontario is facing a flood of feedback after asking its members to “stand up for fitness” by contacting their MPPs about the current strict limitations to indoor fitness as a result of COVID-19.

GoodLife Fitness sent an email to about 200,000 of its employees and members in the province, encouraging them to contact their local MPPs to push to reopen gyms. 

“Between mandated shutdowns, capacity restrictions, and ongoing questions about the safety of fitness facilities, our industry is facing the most difficult time in its history,” the email reads.

The email, which was sent on Monday, included links to a downloadable template for the letter, as well as a website that helps identify your local MPP.

Some people took to social media to criticize — and defend — the email campaign.

Currently gyms located in hotspots across Ontario, like Toronto and Peel, are not allowed to operate under Stage 2 restrictions. As of October 10, fitness centres like indoor gyms and yoga studios were ordered to close for 28 days. 

Jason Sheridan, senior vice-president of operations with GoodLife Fitness, says the idea of the email blast originally came as an initiative from the Fitness Industry Council of Canada. He says that the email was sent out after hearing from staff and members who wanted to know what they could do to make a difference.

“They wanted to know how to advocate on the behalf of the work they do, or the need that people have to have that space to exercise,” he tells Yahoo Canada. “When the Fitness Industry Council of Canada suggested it, we thought this was a great place to go. We want to provide this service of physical and mental health for people who want to get back to the gym.”

When GoodLife Fitness reopened locations in July, lineups of patrons eager to get back in the gym could be seen stretching down the street. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Two-thirds of GoodLife club members had returned to the gym prior to the

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San Francisco’s go-slow approach toward reopening amid the pandemic is paying off

SAN FRANCISCO CA - OCT. 22, 2020. Musicians play at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2020. San Francisco has done an excellent job following public health guidance and made a huge leap from the coronavirus orange tier to the less restrictive yellow tier, providing a pathway for more businesses and activities to reopen. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Musicians play at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Aug. 22. The city is moving to the least restrictive yellow tier under the state’s coronavirus reopening guidelines. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Much of San Francisco looked like a ghost town during late April. All but essential services were closed. Few roamed the streets. The mood seemed as grim as the gray skies overhead.

Now life has returned. Restaurants and stores are open. Clad in masks, pedestrians last week clutched bags from stores where they had just shopped. Diners sat at tables outside restaurants and cafes. People strolled along the bay on the Embarcadero, and a huge Ferris wheel opened for business at Golden Gate Park.

After cautiously approaching the pandemic for months, with a go-slow attitude toward reopening, San Francisco has become the first urban center in California to enter the least restrictive tier for reopening. Risk of infection, according to the state’s color-coded tiers, is considered minimal, even though San Francisco is the second-densest city in the country after New York.

“We have, at least so far, done everything right,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco.

City officials still are not declaring victory. Characteristically, they warn, the virus still lurks around the corner. And as they have before, they will follow local metrics rather than reopen just becomes the state allows it.

A salesperson wears a mask in City Lights Books in the North Beach area of San Francisco on Aug. 22.
A salesperson wears a mask in City Lights Books in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Experts credit San Francisco’s success to a long partnership between public health officers and universities, most notably during the AIDS crisis. San Francisco is not monolithic, but its residents largely followed health guidelines. Unlike other counties, which may have dozens of mayors and city councils, San Francisco is also a city with only one mayor and a Board of Supervisors, and both have largely deferred to the judgment of health officials.

The tech industry, which has a prominent presence in San Francisco, played a role too. Companies ordered their employees to work from home two weeks before San Francisco and other Bay Area counties shut down, Wachter said. That not only kept more people off the streets but signaled to the rest of the region that industry giants were taking the threat of the coronavirus seriously.

San Francisco followed the “hammer and dance” approach, made famous by San Francisco author Tomas Pueyo on the website Medium, Wachter said. The city hit the hammer by shutting down early in the pandemic. The dance has been more complicated. The city has reopened slowly, making adjustments when cases rose and backtracking when necessary.

Of the 20 most populous cities in the U.S., San Francisco has the lowest death rate per capita from COVID-19. If the entire country had followed the city’s approach, Wachter said, there would be 50,000 dead from the pandemic instead of more than 220,000.

To be sure, San Francisco

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L.A. County to ease some coronavirus rules, though a wide reopening remains elusive

Although Los Angeles County remains rooted in the most restrictive tier of California’s coronavirus reopening road map, officials this week announced plans to relax some requirements on businesses to bring the county’s standards in line with wider state guidelines.

a group of people sitting on a bench: Adan Gutierrez, left, Ramon Ayala and Vicente Fernandez enjoy a beer outside Grand Central Market in Los Angeles on June 30. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

© (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Adan Gutierrez, left, Ramon Ayala and Vicente Fernandez enjoy a beer outside Grand Central Market in Los Angeles on June 30. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The changes — expected this week — will allow family entertainment centers to open outdoors; eliminate a requirement that customers at wineries and breweries make reservations; and remove the food requirement for wineries.

“I hope this provides much-needed relief and respite for residents who are looking for some activities outside of their homes,” Kathryn Barger, chairwoman of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, said during a briefing Wednesday.

“These updates will also bring more employees back to work,” she said — a pivotal development in a region where the unemployment rate has been estimated at 16%.

Barger also said county schools are in line to welcome back more students for in-person instruction.

According to the supervisor, schools have been allowed to bring up to 10% of students back on campus at a time if the students have special needs, such as those with disabilities or who are learning English.

“We will now increase to 25% capacity for high-needs students so more children and youth can have access to their teachers and the on-site support systems that are so critical for their growth and for their education,” Barger said.

It is unclear when that change will go into effect. But as L.A. County remains in Tier 1 of the state’s four-tier reopening plan — also called the purple tier, which indicates widespread risk of community coronavirus transmission — campuses cannot reopen for all students.

The county’s spot in the state’s most stringent tier also prevents wider economic reopenings. Under the purple category, many businesses and public facilities either cannot operate indoors or can do so only at a strictly limited capacity.

Counties land in the purple tier if they have more than seven new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people per day or a test positivity rate of more than 8%.

As of Wednesday, L.A. County’s case rate remained above the threshold required to move down into the red tier.

“I think many of us are discouraged that we haven’t yet reduced our case rate enough to move to Tier 2,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday. “I do want to note that we do have the tools in hand to drive transmission rates down in our communities. Not only do we want to eventually progress into less restrictive tiers, but we want to be able to continue to keep businesses and institutions open.”

Ferrer announced 33 new COVID-19 deaths in the county, raising the total toll to 6,944, as well as 510 new cases for a total of 290,486.

But she cautioned that “some significant

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N.C. maintains reopening guidance as COVID numbers worsen

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that the state will keep its reopening guidelines in place for three more weeks, at a time when key coronavirus metrics worsen.

Since Cooper increased mass indoor and outdoor gathering limits and allowed bars, movie theaters, amusement parks and other businesses to partially reopen earlier this month, the spread of the virus has increased.

The state on Wednesday eclipsed 4,000 deaths and 250,000 cases since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, noted that North Carolina saw its highest single-day increases in COVID-19 cases to date on two occasions last week.

Current hospitalizations have also hit monthslong highs, with more than 1,200 patients being treated now for the virus. Daily deaths also have climbed. The 53 virus-related deaths North Carolina reported on Tuesday amounted to the highest one-day total during the pandemic.

For the first time this month, the state on Wednesday reported that the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive surpassed 7% on consecutive days.

“Because several of our trends are moving in the wrong direction, North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 3 for the next three weeks,” Cooper said. “We hope that greater enforcement, strong community leadership and more people doing the right things can lower these numbers.”

Cooper, who has long said science is driving his decision-making process, insisted the metrics do concern him, which is why he decided not to go forward with reopening more parts of the state’s economy. Still, he was adamant that the state isn’t facing a dramatic surge in coronavirus spread.

“We aren’t in the middle of a spike and we haven’t seen one yet in this process largely due to the people’s persistence out there and to the strong action that we’ve taken, but we will continue to watch these trends and we’ll do whatever is necessary,” Cooper said.

Cohen said Cooper’s transition to Phase 3 that took effect on Oct. 2 and was extended on Wednesday from Oct. 23 to Nov. 13 is not the only thing causing the increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Still, she said looser restrictions may be contributing to growing complacency among North Carolinians tired of following public health protocols, such as mask wearing and maintaining 6 feet (1.8 meters) of physical separation from one another.

“Moving forward in Phase 3 may have not just eased restrictions on a few businesses but may have folks put their guard down a bit,” Cohen said. “I think that’s the thing we want to make sure that folks are putting their guard back up (and) being vigilant as we go forward here.”

Cohen sent a letter to local officials in 36 counties on Wednesday calling for law enforcement agencies and public health officials to fine businesses that don’t enforce the statewide mask mandate and go above and beyond current health public guidelines. She encouraged the counties to reduce gathering limits, close off alcohol

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Disneyland Reopening Schedule, Delays Threaten Nearby Businesses

ANAHEIM, CA — It may be “A Small World After All,” as the song goes, but Disneyland is too big to reopen at present, according to the governor’s office. On Tuesday, the state’s newly released reopening guidelines showed that while some small amusement parks may reopen, large-scale theme parks will be at the back of the line.

The much-awaited reopening guidelines, shared Tuesday by California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, show that Disneyland Resort and California’s large-scale theme parks may not reopen until the county reaches the Yellow (minimal) Tier, likely not in 2020.

The reopening has been a concern not just for Walt Disney Co. but also for the city of Anaheim, which has suffered the loss of multiple businesses and livelihoods in the wake of the park closure.

Many Anaheim businesses depend on the Disneyland Resort for their survival, from restaurants to transportation and hotels.

The Castle Inn, one such business, sits directly across the street from the Disneyland main gates. With its royal theme and walkable distance to the resort, the 50-year-old hotel is a favorite among guests.

Today, the lobby sits empty. The hotel has no guests and no revenue, though there are many expenses that go with maintaining the property, according to owner Bharat Patel.

Bharat Patel discusses his empty hotel, crushing bills, and the sadness of letting longtime employees go. Interview photo.
Bharat Patel discusses his empty hotel, crushing bills, and the sadness of letting longtime employees go. Interview photo.

Seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, his hotel is devoid of guests. There are no little princesses running through the grounds or parents chasing after them. Still, to Patel, that isn’t the hardest part.

The most difficult thing he’s experienced thus far in the coronavirus pandemic is being forced to let a significant number of his staff go, he says.

“I still think about them every day,” he said, voice full of emotion. “How do you tell someone that put their blood sweat and tears into your dream that you don’t have the work for them?”

Patel doesn’t know when he can reopen, and that uncertainty keeps him up at night.

“I don’t think we can hold on much longer,” he says. “We need help.”

To Patel, Anaheim is a family, and that family is hurting.

Read also: Anaheim Will Survive, Officials Concerned With Closure Fallout

Orange County currently sits at the second, or Red (Substantial), tier of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Blueprint For A Safer Economy. For weeks, the county has teetered on the verge of the Orange tier; however, the case counts for daily positive cases remain stubbornly at the Substantial tier rankings.

As of Tuesday, Orange County is experiencing 4.6 new daily cases per 100,000 people, still in the Red tier. Meanwhile, the testing positivity percentage remains in the middle of the Orange tier rankings, at 3.2 positive tests per 100,000 people tested.

Disneyland will not be allowed to reopen until those two positivity percentages are solidly under 2 percent, according to the governor’s current plan.

According to the state, management can set to work

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Is it safe to go to the dentist? Very few infections tied to reopening, survey finds

Rates of Covid-19 among dentists were low in the late spring as dental practices reopened and patients returned, a report published Thursday by the American Dental Association suggests.

Researchers conducted a nationwide survey June 8 with responses from more than 2,000 dentists from across the country. Just 0.9 percent, they found, had either confirmed or probable cases of Covid-19.

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Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, it was widely believed that dentists would be at high risk of contracting Covid-19, as their work puts them in very close contact with patients and many of their procedures, which involve water and air spray, could generate virus-laden aerosol particles.

The survey also found that virtually all of the dentists — 99.7 percent — were using what was referred to as “enhanced infection control procedures.” They included screening protocols for patients and disinfection practices.

However, while nearly all dentists reported some use of personal protective equipment, only 73 percent of dentists reported wearing protective equipment in accordance with national guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That required the use of surgical masks, gowns, gloves and eye protection during procedures not expected to produce aerosols, as well as the use of N95 respirators for aerosol-generating procedures.

The lead author of the study, Cameron Estrich, a health data analyst at the American Dental Association, or ADA, said she was surprised by two things: the low rate of infection and the extremely high adoption of infection control measures.

“Pretty much all of the dentists that we surveyed had really stepped up their infection control and prevention procedures,” she said. “They had shut down their practices for a few months to get these all in place.”

Dr. Biana Roykh, an associate professor of dental medicine at Columbia University, said that while the findings are encouraging, it’s important to note that the survey was conducted in early June, when many practices may not have been fully operational and were limited to emergency visits only.

“It looks at a time when the pandemic was at its height and the experiences in the dental practices were probably more or less limited in terms of how much aerosols that we’re generating,” said Roykh, who wasn’t involved with the ADA report.

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In New York, for example, dentists weren’t allowed to fully reopen until May 31, just over a week before the survey was sent out.

Roykh said that while the findings are preliminary, they mirror what she has seen in her dental practice.

“Our experience with this specific pandemic shows that when we are compliant with good PPE measures, and health and safety controls are in place, that we are generally able to keep our workforce safe,” she said.

Renee Anthony, a professor of occupational and environmental health at the University of Iowa, said she is looking for data about infection rates of patients who have visited dental offices.


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