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Gym operators launch lawsuit against Gov Newsom

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    SACRAMENTO, CA (KCRA) — California’s gym operators are exercising their legal rights and launched a lawsuit on Tuesday against Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials for restricting access to workout facilities.

The fight over fitness is the latest battle over novel coronavirus public health restrictions in California, where most counties are prohibiting gyms from operating indoors.

“At this point, fitness is not able to be open in the purple tier and is only able to be open 10% in the red tier, which is really not a sustainable way to open,” said Francesca Schuler, a gym owner who is part of the California Fitness Alliance that is suing the state.

The California Fitness Alliance includes Schuler’s In-Shape health clubs, with 60 gyms from Yuba City to Victorville. KCRA 3 asked Schuler what specific remedies she is seeking in the lawsuit.

“We know we can operate safely at all times at 25% and continue to be responsible and not spread COVID-19 at that level — so, that’s our first goal is really to get open all the time,” Schuler said.

In California, COVID-19 infection rates have declined dramatically.

The state reported 2,200 new cases in the past 24 hours. The seven-day average is now 3,400 cases, while the positivity rate is down to 3.6%.

Hospital rates continue to trend lower with about 2,800 COVID-19-positive patients now hospitalized across California. Of those, the intensive care unit numbers have dropped to near 900.

“Now that the COVID-19 rates are going down, when will you allow more people to workout in gyms?” KCRA 3 asked Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health and human services.

“I really can’t comment about active litigation,” Ghaly said. “We’re continuing to work with counties as they move through it to see when they decide and it’s appropriate under the state’s sort of ultimate guidelines to be able to not just have gyms considered for increased operations but other sectors as well.”

Many health experts are still concerned that gyms may help spread the novel coronavirus.

“Because of the activity, people are breathing hard while they are exercising, they tend to be in an enclosed space if they are indoors and there’s a lot of shared equipment,” said Sacramento County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Olivia Kasirye. “All of these are additional risks for transmission of COVID-19.”

“We are keeping track of the numbers week by week and they are going in the right direction,” she added.

Kasirye said the county is focused on the number of positive cases per 100,000 people.

“As of this morning, the data that was released, they have us at a case rate of nine,” Kasirye said. “We have got to get to seven. So, our hope is that within the next couple of weeks, we’ll be able to reach the criteria for Tier 2.”

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