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COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at San Diego gym operating illegally

A community COVID-19 outbreak had been linked to the Gym.
San Diego County officials confirmed Wednesday that a community COVID-19 outbreak had been linked to the Gym in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego.
(Sam Hodgson / San Diego Union-Tribune)

An outbreak of COVID-19 was confirmed Wednesday at a popular San Diego gym that had been operating in defiance of the county’s public health order.

In response, San Diego County officials announced that they would step up efforts to protect workers and improve enforcement and contact tracing.

County officials had ordered the Pacific Beach fitness business the Gym to immediately close last week, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said Wednesday. The Gym continued operating but is now closed.

“This was a perfect storm where we had to require the business to close, and then yesterday they were on our outbreak list,” Wooten said. “Last week, when we were trying to get them to close, we didn’t know they were on the outbreak list.”

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The owner of the Gym did not respond to requests for comment.

To improve the speed and effectiveness with which the county can trace contacts amid an increase in cases and outbreaks, staff will ask the Board of Supervisors at its meeting next week to consider hiring more people for its COVID-19 tracing, compliance and enforcement efforts, officials said Wednesday. The county said it is also working to diversify the backgrounds of those it hires to better match the communities hit hardest.

Officials also announced that the county is updating its public health order, effective Thursday, to require employers to notify all employees if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Supervisor Greg Cox said the county is working with cities and hammering out the details of how to form teams with law enforcement agencies that would work to ensure compliance with the public health order. Cox said staff expected to present a proposal to the Board of Supervisors at its meeting Tuesday.

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Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county is doing what enforcement it can, but the new cases and outbreaks require more resources. So far, the county has issued three orders to close businesses and three cease and desist letters, he said.

“We recognize that we have to do more, we have to step up what we’re doing a little better, and we’re responding accordingly,” Fletcher said.

Cook writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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