Back in November 2020 I was deeply disappointed when John Miller, the owner of Courthouse Club Fitness here in Salem, defied Governor Brown's order for gyms to close for two weeks because COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were rising so rapidly in Oregon.
Starting yesterday, August 13, 2021, Governor Brown has mandated mask-wearing in indoor public spaces due to... COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rising so rapidly in Oregon. As the familiar saying goes, it's deja vu all over again.
Well, one personal difference is that in November 2020 I wasn't a member of Courthouse Club Fitness, as described in the above blog post.
My wife and I cancelled our Courthouse Club Fitness membership, which I've had for almost as long as the clubs opened up many years ago, after we learned that the clubs were going to allow people to wear face shields rather than masks when gyms were allowed to reopen. (Face shields are ineffective.)
I rejoined Courthouse Club Fitness after Governor Brown announced the end of Covid restrictions about six weeks ago. It felt good to get back to my usual exercise routine -- stairmaster for 30 minutes, circuit weight training, a bit of solo Tai Chi -- after so many months of at-home exercising.
Presciently, about two weeks ago I started wearing a mask in Courthouse Club Fitness even though it wasn't mandated. I just felt better doing this, since the Delta variant was causing serious Covid problems in Oregon and elsewhere. Plus, too many people in Marion County were refusing to get vaccinated, a huge mistake both for them and the public at large.
Today I was curious to see whether Courthouse Club Fitness was requiring their gym users to wear masks, as called for by Governor Brown's mask order. Things looked sort of promising when I got to the front door of the River Road center and saw this notice had been put up on a window.
It turns out that masks, face coverings, and face shields are all OK under Brown's order, even though I'm still convinced that face shields are considerably less effective than masks based on the research I've seen, albeit better than nothing.
The Courthouse Club Fitness employee at the front desk was wearing a mask, another positive sign. But then things went downhill, Covid-safety wise.
In the aerobics room most people weren't wearing anything. A couple of young women were running along on the treadmills close to the elliptical machine I was using, maskless, face coveringless, and face shieldless. Some older folks and I had masks on, which was good.
However, I saw no indication that gym staff were making any effort to encourage people to wear a mask, or reminding them of the requirement. In fact, aside from the sole person at the front desk, it appeared that staff weren't wearing a mask either.
All this bothered me, but not enough for me to say anything.
After all, since Courthouse Club Fitness has been willing to be hit with $126,000 in fines for staying open despite Covid restrictions, a complaint from a member about mask-wearing seemed extremely unlikely to change the owner's resistance to complying with public health requirements.
I'll keep on wearing a mask while exercising there. It really isn't a big deal.
My heart rate on the elliptical trainer is just the same during my 30 minutes of aerobic exercise whether or not I'm wearing my N95-quality mask with a filter. I'm able to take occasional sips of water while on that machine by pulling up the bottom of my mask a bit.
And when I'm doing my thing in the circuit weight room, I slip off a mask earpiece periodically and take some quick sips of water without breathing much if any maskless air.
It's just unfortunate that Courthouse Club Fitness is so resistant to doing its part to help combat the Delta variant surge in Covid cases that threatens to overwhelm local hospitals. I readily admit that exercising with a mask on isn't as pleasant as exercising maskless.
However, my Tai Chi instructor just sent out an email saying that even though everyone in our classes is vaccinated, now we're going to wear masks during our indoor sessions, because that's what Governor Brown's mask mandate requires.
Everyone should be working together to stop the pandemic, or at least to get cases down to an acceptable level. Today an estimated 1,000 people gathered at the state capitol here in Salem to protest vaccine and mask mandates. That is incredibly misguided.
Either those people aren't bothering to understand public health science, or they're purposely politicizing the pandemic for their own selfish ends.