HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Masks might be your most important accessory at the gym.
That’s the message of a new report that looked at what triggered a large cluster of COVID cases last summer that were linked to three Hawaii gyms.
The study, conducted by a team led by acting state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble, found the clusters started when an asymptomatic fitness instructor taught a cycle class.
At the time, face masks were not required in fitness centers on Oahu.
Researchers said one of the participants of the original cycle class was a fitness instructor who did not display symptoms and unknowingly transmitted the virus to participants during personal training sessions and kick-boxing lessons at another fitness center.
A third gym, where the first instructor taught a class more than two days prior to experiencing symptoms was also investigated, but no transmission was observed.
Researchers found the clusters included at least 30 cases and probably much more.
Through their investigation, researchers believed the virus was spread due to close contact, poor room ventilation and not wearing face masks.
The study also found that transmission occurred despite spin cycles being spaced at least 6 feet apart.
Researchers also believed that shouting throughout the one-hour cycle class might have contributed to transmission of the virus.
As Hawaii plans to loosen COVID-19 restrictions Thursday, allowing gyms and fitness facilities to operate indoors at 50% capacity, the paper offers the following recommendations:
- Everyone should wear a mask, even during high intensity activities.
- Facilities should improve ventilation.
- Consistent and correct mask use and physical distancing must be enforced, which includes maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between all persons, limiting physical contact, class size and crowded spaces
- Gym goers should frequently wash their hands.
- Patrons and staff members should be reminded to stay home when ill
- To further reduce risk, exercise should be conducted outdoors if possible.
To read the full paper, click here.