UPDATE: MCHD, Planet Fitness fitness release updates on positive COVID-19 case

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UPDATE (JUNE 29, 2020 2:35 p.m.):

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – On Monday, MCHD issued a press release in which they stated that a registered sanitarian from MCHD Environmental Health visited Planet Fitness but was unable to get in because of professional industrial cleaning that was going on.

In a statement issued to WBOY on Monday, McCall Gosselin, company spokeswoman, and Planet Fitness SVP of Communications said:

“At Planet Fitness, the safety of our team and members is our top priority. We have been in communication with the Monongalia County Health Department upon being notified that a member in our Morgantown, W.Va. location tested positive for COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, the club is temporarily closed for deep cleaning and we are not aware of any additional members or team members reporting symptoms at this time. 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 sanitation policies and procedures, extensive training for staff, physical distancing measures, reducing physical touch points in the club with touchless check-in, and more.”

The registered sanitarian plans on returning to the gym to place a sign on the door stating that masks are required to enter the facility. Dr. Lee Smith, the executive director of MCHD, said masks are crucial in combatting the virus.

“We know that masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that’s why we recommend wearing them in public,” Dr. Smith said in the release. “Other precautions include maintaining a social distance of six feet and washing hands thoroughly and often.”

According to the release, right now MCHD has its public health nurses conducting a disease investigation and contact tracing. Nurses have been in touch with and will continue to monitor the individual with COVID-19, as well as determine any other contacts who would need to be notified.

Those who may have been exposed to the infected individual are encouraged to quarantine and self-monitor for the next 14 days, the release stated. If they develop symptoms, which include shortness of breath, fever, dry cough, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and loss of smell, then they should call their primary care provider and also get tested.

UPDATE (JUNE 28, 2020 5:00 p.m.):

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Monongalia County Health Department issued a press release Saturday evening stating a client of Planet Fitness in Morgantown on Fort Pierpont Road has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The person was at the gym on Wednesday, June 24th and could have exposed others between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day.

The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. time frame was chosen in order to cast as wide a net as possible, according to a MCHD press release.

“Aerosols can linger in the air and viruses can linger on surfaces,” Dr. Lee Smith, executive director of MCHD, said. “Also, while gym members sign in, they don’t sign out, so there is no way to know how long they stayed there.”

The release said when people are at a gym, compared to many other businesses, clients are usually there for a longer period of time and perform exercises that can cause them to breathe harder than usual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a primary transmission route for COVID-19 is close contact and respiratory droplets that can travel when someone speaks, sings, breathes hard, etc.

Health Department officials are urging anyone who was at the facility during those hours to self-quarantine for 14 days and watch for symptoms of COVID-19, which include shortness of breath, fever, dry cough, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and loss of smell.

“They also should do their best to stay away from others in their household,” said Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD executive director and county health officer. “Ways to do this would be to stay primarily in one area of the home and to wear a mask if you must be around others.”

The release went on to say approximately 205 individuals were at Planet Fitness during that window of time. They should not leave home unless to seek medical care, which they should only do after setting up an appointment with a health care provider and learning the correct protocol to be seen.

On Sunday afternoon, June 28, there were still a lot of Planet Fitness members in the gym, many of whom were unaware that another client had contracted the virus. James Cottrell, a Planet Fitness member for a couple of years, said he was aware of the COVID-19 case but not bothered by the incident because he has absolute confidence in the gym.

“It’s always been good. it always has been good,” Cottrell said. “They’ve always done a good job supplying the cleaners and everything else everyone needs, plus if you — it’s not really, let me say, up to the gym ownership. I would say it’s more of the patrons’ duty to keep the place clean and I think if everyone would contribute it would go a lot smoother.”

Officials say, West Virginia, along with about half of the states in the nation, is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases. In the past 10 days, the state has seen an increase of about 400 cases; in the 10 days prior to that, cases rose by about 240. As of late Saturday afternoon, the West Virginia case count was 2,782.

Monongalia County currently has 152 cases, up 21 cases in the past 10 days.

Everyone is encouraged to take precautions in order to avoid getting COVID-19, or, for symptomless individuals, giving someone else COVID-19. This includes wearing masks in public, washing hands thoroughly and often and maintaining a distance of six feet from others.

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