With no federal response, states are being left to decide how to deal with the increasing Covid numbers on their own. In some ways that’s great because different states have different situations; however it is also leaves a room full of governors taking a test that has no correct answers but that they need to pass, so they keep looking at “answers” the state next to them is giving and copying. This is a truly a case of the blind leading the blind. No one has answers. It is all a guessing game and trial and error right now. I have the utmost compassion for those in the decision making roles right now, but can we please also remember science and LOGIC as we take this test?
I own two small dance fitness studios in Wisconsin. I write this blog from a place of not wanting to lose everything I’ve spent 10 years building. I also lost my grandma to Covid this week. So I know this virus is real. I want to protect people. And I want to be able to have small business on the other side. These things are not conflicting but they sure feel like they are when the topic is political instead of public health and the decisions being made fail to use science, data and logic. Lockdown is a dirty word to every small business owner right now. Especially those of us that have taken all the steps (and costs) to reopen safely and can prove it.
Iowa and Michigan recently started lockdown restrictions saying that gyms can stay open but group fitness classes must cease. I have seen zero data that says anything about higher virus spread in group fitness classes. There was one study in China at the start of this, so many months ago before we knew anything. That study is no longer relevant and new data isn’t being collected or shared about the prevalence of spread in group fitness classes versus a gym. So why this distinction? Where is the logic here? In a group fitness class the instructor is monitoring the room and participants. At my studios that means they are making sure masks are being worn, that students are cleaning areas after use, and are making sure physical distance is realized throughout all of class. My instructors are opening doors to increase air flow when needed. My instructors are following lengthy procedures to keep people attending safe. Why would you take the lifeguard out of the pool? This makes zero sense to me. If it is class size concerns, that has already been addressed by no more than 10 or 25% capacity restrictions, so what is the logic for removing the person in charge of a fitness workout who is keeping everyone safe but still allowing the workout without them? If you take the lifeguard out of a pool would you expect more or less drownings? Allowing gyms to remain open but closing group fitness classes with a trained leader keeping people safe is going to increase spread, not decrease. If anything, this should be the opposite! Usually if a lifeguard isn’t on duty the pool is closed….
The other issue with lockdowns restrictions now is we have more information. Since Aerial Dance reopened May 26 I have meticulously tracked every concern at the studio in regards to covid. You know what all my data crunching found? We have zero instances of spreading. ZERO. As far as public spaces go, my studios are “safe”. Our policies work. And I have collected the data to prove it. So if this same restriction to close group fitness classes to stop the spread comes to Wisconsin, why would I honor it when I have actual data showing my businesses are not a concern for spread? I have offered to send my data a few places, no one has accepted it. Instead of blanket restrictions bundling businesses into big inaccurate homogenous groups shouldn’t any future restrictions actually go after the offenders that are causing spread through poor policies and enforcement? The public health departments are tracking spread, they should have data by now. Why not use actual data and do a much more targeted approach to helping out community decrease spread in these difficult times? And while we’re at it, let’s celebrate the businesses that are providing safe services!
And please, Iowa and Michigan, don’t take the lifeguard out of the pool but keep the pool open. That is simply crazy.