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Dozens infected, nine dead in COVID-19 outbreak at a Santa Cruz County nursing home

Coronavirus has infected dozens of residents, with nine dead, at a nursing home in Watsonville, Calif., in Santa Cruz County.
Coronavirus has infected dozens of residents, with nine dead, at a nursing home in Watsonville, Calif., in Santa Cruz County.

A skilled nursing home in Santa Cruz County is suffering a severe outbreak of COVID-19, with 61 people having tested positive and nine dead, a county health spokeswoman said Thursday.

Of the 61 infected at the Watsonville Post-Acute Center, nine were staff. All those who died were residents and ranged in age from their early 70s to 90s, said Corinne Hyland, a public information officer for the county Department of Public Health. The facility is licensed for 95 beds.

Hyland said the facility had been following state guidelines for employee testing, which exposed the outbreak. The center reported the outbreak to the county on Sept. 17 after a resident tested positive. An outbreak at a nursing home is defined as an infection in one resident. Visitors have been barred during the pandemic, she said.

“It spread pretty quickly,” Hyland said. “Unfortunately, this is a very vulnerable population.”

Dr. David Ghilarducci, deputy health officer for Santa Cruz County, said the county’s public health staff was working closely with the facility to control the outbreak.

Santa Cruz County health officials have been visiting the facility daily to review protocols on isolation, quarantine, testing and screening, and to respond to requests for more resources.

Officials from the California Department of Public Health have made multiple visits to the facility to assess the situation and make recommendations, and the California National Guard also is providing help, the county said.

Because many nursing home employees work in more than one facility, the county immediately alerted other homes of the outbreak, Hyland said. She added that the county was tracing the contacts of the infected.

“This is really a large outbreak,” Hyland said. “We haven’t seen this sort of thing in our county until now.”

The Watsonville center’s website has reported previous infections in the past but in small numbers. The website indicates that past infections have been among employees.

Gerald E. Hunter, the facility’s administrator, said on the website there were 23 residents and four staff members who were positive for the virus on Oct. 5. He said the county’s numbers reflected the total infected since the outbreak started.

“Each day we evaluate all of our residents following CDPH and County of Santa Cruz guidelines to determine whom meets the criteria to be transferred out of the unit,” said Hunter on the website. He did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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The boutique fitness experience as we knew it is dead

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the previously-booming boutique fitness industry into crisis, with studios struggling to pay rent as classes remain closed or at limited capacity.
  • Consumers are increasingly pivoting to digital and at-home fitness as companies like Peloton and Mirror, already successful pre-pandemic, have been booming. 
  • Experts say the coronavirus exposed existing vulnerabilities in the boutique fitness industry, but the market for premium in-person fitness experiences will likely adapt and survive through the pandemic. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When Flywheel Sports, the revolutionary spin class with a cult following, announced it was permanently closing its doors in September, other studios saw an ominous sign in the world of boutique fitness.

“When it’s as big as Flywheel, that’s when it really gets noticed. That’s exemplifying what’s going to happen over the next 6 months,” said Amanda Freeman, founder of SLT NYC, a pilates studio with locations in several states, including New York and New Jersey.

Flywheel was once widely lauded as a paragon of success, expanding to 42 studios since its founding in 2014. In March, the company laid off 98% of its staff. Flywheel declared bankruptcy September 15, joining the ranks of fitness corporations like Gold’s Gym and New York Sports Club parent company Town International Sports, which have had to permanently shutter locations and liquidate assets in response to pandemic-induced closures.

Six months into the pandemic, the boutique fitness industry is now facing a crisis. 

The business of small, often exclusive or luxury spaces, group exercise classes, and typically a specialization (such as high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, barre, spin, or pilates), has boomed in the past decade.

“The big success was built on that idea that you could have an experience with an individual rockstar trainer or the brand identity and community,” said Jared Kaplan, owner and founder of Studio 26, once called the “WeWork” of fitness, providing a co-working space for fitness professionals. 

“People really identified with the experience they were having rather than being a cog in a big box gym, whether that was a dark class with pumping music or a really serene, meditative studio.”

But that highly successful model of home-away-from-home studios with showers, saunas, and luxe changing rooms may be a thing of the past. Instagram-worthy ambience, amenities, and a trainer that remembers your name may not be enough to entice exercisers back into the studio, given evidence that the virus spreads more easily indoors. 

To compete with the at-home fitness industry that’s booming during the pandemic, boutique fitness has to also adapt to meet clients where they are now, which is increasingly at home. And under intense economic and social pressure, studios that are unable or unwilling to change rapidly may not survive at all. 

Even prior to COVID-19, the industry was being squeezed by platforms like ClassPass, which offered subscribers credits to attend multiple studios, rather than faithfully subscribing to one. While boutique studios typically charge a premium per-class fee, ClassPass leveraged lower prices by helping to