Gyms and Coronavirus: What Are the Risks?

Sweat cannot transmit the virus but high-contact surfaces, such as barbells, can pose a problem, a doctor said.

Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

The NY Times | by Aimee Ortiz | March 8, 2020

It’s not the kind of thing you want to think about while you’re in child’s pose in yoga class, when your nose is close to the mat, but after hearing how you should stop touching your face to guard against the coronavirus, you might wonder: What are the risks of transmission while working out at a gym?

The spread of the coronavirus could make even the most ardent gym rats stress out about picking up barbells.

There’s a lower risk of picking up the coronavirus at a gym or health club than at a church service, for example, said Dr. David Thomas, a professor of medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. By comparison, church services may include shaking hands and being in closer proximity to people.

But if you’re in a community where there have been cases of the coronavirus, “that’s, perhaps, a time to be more cautious with all types of exposures, including a gym,” Dr. Thomas said.

Sweat cannot transmit the virus but high-contact surfaces, such as barbells, can pose a problem, he said.

Scientists are still figuring out how the virus exactly spreads but have provided some guidance on how it seems to be transmitted. A study of other coronaviruses found they remained on metal, glass and plastic for two hours to nine days.

Certain objects, like handles and doorknobs, are “disproportionally affected by hands, and those are the surfaces most likely to have viruses for that reason,” Dr. Thomas said.

The owner of a yoga studio in Washington State, where several coronavirus patients have died, according to The Yoga Journal, “says she’s seen a direct impact from all the hysteria in the area on both attendance and business.”

Equinox, the luxury fitness club brand, has sent notices to members, reassuring them that additional steps are being taken during the peak flu season and amid growing concerns about the coronavirus.

The additional steps include disinfecting all club areas with a hospital-grade solution three times a day, reminding people to stay home if they are sick and asking instructors to eliminate skin-to-skin contact, like hands-on adjustments during yoga, a spokeswoman said.

Brian Cooper, chief executive of YogaWorks, sent an email to the company’s clients, reassuring them that it was stepping up its cleaning processes “to keep our facilities a safe and welcoming environment for all students and staff.”

David Carney, president of Orangetheory Fitness, listed precautions in an email on Thursday. “Wipe down your equipment after every block, and don’t hesitate to request a new wipe whenever you need to,” he wrote.

Do you know what’s in those nondescript spray bottle at gyms that you’re supposed to use to wipe down your machine, mat and equipment?

If you’re not sure, ask staff members what’s in the bottle or take your own wipes to the gym.

“I’ll probably bring my own wipes,” Dr. Thomas said on Saturday of his gym trip planned for later that day. “I’ll know that they’re the right wipes and they have the right concentration of alcohol.”

Diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol and several common household disinfectants should be effective against the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Environmental Protection Agency released a list of disinfectants against the virus.

In addition to avoiding frequently handled machines and equipment, it’s recommended, as always, that you wash your hands often and don’t touch your face.

And if you’re feeling sick, stay home.

“This is mostly about how you keep from getting sick at a gym, but please don’t go to the gym if you feel sick,” Dr. Thomas said. “Don’t give it to other people.”

Heather Murphy contributed reporting.

NY Governor Cuomo declares state of emergency – Corona virus cases rose to 89

WGRZ2 | ALBANY, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo held a news conference Saturday afternoon with the latest information regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, in New York State.

During the news conference Cuomo also declared a state of emergency.

Cuomo announced that there are 32 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. He updated that total to 45 new cases and 89 total across New York State, though none of those confirmed cases are here in Western New York.

The governor said hundreds of tests have been conducted so far in the state. He also gave a list of where the current cases are in New York. He said 70 cases are in Westchester County, 11 cases are in New York City, four are in Nassau County, two are in Rockland County, and two are in Saratoga County.

Out of the 89 confirmed cases; 10 people have been hospitalized.

Andrew Cuomo

@NYGovCuomo

Update: There are 13 additional cases of #Coronavirus in NYS since earlier today, bringing total to 89.

Westchester: 70
NYC: 11
Nassau: 4
Rockland: 2
Saratoga: 2

There will be more cases as we test more—that’s a good thing bc we can deal with the situation based on more facts.

There are currently 116 people in quarantine in Erie County as part of the coronavirus protocol. New York State says 115 of those quarantines are precautionary. One quarantine is mandatory. Niagara County says they have four people under voluntary quarantine.

How I got even with the 5-Star Hotel that gave me Bed Bugs

brokelyn.png by Erin Scottberg | November 7, 2017

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I kept a folder in my phone called #BiteThings before I knew what it was. All photos by Erin Scottberg

Of all the questionable places I’ve spent the night — dingy apartments in Bushwick, shady hostels in Cambodia, cut-rate motels on cross-country road trips — the last place I expected to pick up bed bugs was from a luxury hotel in the Bay Area. But lo and behold, that’s what happened: I brought home one of New York’s biggest nightmares on a cross-country flight from SFO, not on a cross-borough ride on the G train.

On the mildly bright side, I figured getting bed bugs from a fancy, five-star hotel chain that was known for their excellent customer service was at least the best way to get them. There’s no way I’d be responsible for treating my apartment, which I knew could be super expensive. It was their fault, end of story. Sure, they may not have a legal responsibility — a few states have laws protecting hotel guests from bed bugs, though they usually aren’t very effective — but anything else would be bad business.

Turns out, it wasn’t that simple.

This all happened two years ago during a business trip to San Francisco. I was enjoying happy hour with a friend at Rickhouse, a trendy cocktail bar in the Financial District filled with lots of dark wood and tech-engineer types crowded around whiskey barrel tables, when I noticed a small cluster of itchy pink bumps on my foot. As the bartender handed us our drinks, I joked, “The mosquitoes out here just love me!”

“That’s weird,” my friend replied with a confused look. “I don’t think I’ve been bitten once in the seven years I’ve lived here.”

I was so used to being the one who gets eaten alive while everyone else remains unscathed that I thought nothing of it. Having never lived there, I had no idea that the Bay Area has basically zero mosquitoes.

That night, I tucked myself once again into my fancy, king-sized hotel bed. Two days later I flew back to Brooklyn and crawled into my own bed for a daytime nap.

__________

A victim of ‘Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner’ bites, I wasn’t about to give up.

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Once I saw ‘breakfast, lunch and dinner’ bites, I knew it was bedbugs.

I woke up a few hours later with three big, itchy red bumps on my thigh. The next morning, there were a few more. When the same thing happened a third time, I assumed a mosquito had gotten into my apartment when I was out of town so I Googled “How to catch a mosquito” and started taking advice from internet commenters.

I’m no fool. Of course I’d suspected bed bugs, but I had no evidence — no physical bugs, no reddish-brown marks where I might have squashed one after it bit me, not even any “brown, coffee-grind like residue” I’d been told to look for (it’s their poop). And I’d been searching hard. Plus, I couldn’t come up with a source. I hadn’t had any house guests, hadn’t lugged home sidewalk furniture, hadn’t seen a movie at The Pavilion. The only possibility was that fancy hotel. But surely they’d have that stuff on lock to keep their reputation pristine?

After nearly two weeks of dotting each bite with a marker before bed to keep track of new bites, I woke up to three in a row on the side of my left shin — breakfast, lunch and dinner, as it’s called in bedbug-savvy circles. I was disgusted and freaking out. I tore apart my bed more thoroughly than ever, flipping over the box spring and prying the fabric from the frame with a butter knife while peaking in with a flashlight. Finally, after half an hour of hunting, there they were: two tiny, slightly reddish bed bugs tucked underneath a staple on the bottom side of my box spring.

Redemption. Success. An intense feeling of violation. Terror. Fears of bankruptcy and social ostracization and having to throw out everything I owned and start from scratch. The irony of having travelled to the opposite coast only to come face to face with New York’s public enemy number one was not lost on me. For a hot minute (ok, probably about 15 minutes), I lost it. I sat on my floor in the middle of my basic metal bed frame and cried.

But then, I started handling shit. And I was going to go after that fucking hotel.

___________

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I lived out of bags I kept in my kitchen, which was declared bed bug free.

First, I went to the hardware store for construction grade trash bags, mattress bags (like the kind you use for moving) and duct tape and sealed up pretty much everything in my bedroom — bedding, books, the actual luggage I’d used in SF. Anything that could went straight to the laundromat for a high-temp wash and dry. When the exterminators came later, they complimented my work.

Next, I called the hotel.

The manager listened calmly, then he explained that they couldn’t inspect the room because it was currently occupied.

I was incredulous. “Well, get them out of there! It has bed bugs!” He took down my contact info and said he’d get back to me. They didn’t seem to be taking things seriously.

The next day I got an email thanking me “for reaching out to us regarding any bed bug concerns that you have” and explaining that “after the inspection conducted today we did find minimal bed bug activity in the room.”

Minimal. Ha. The email then went on to explain how bed bugs aren’t a reflection of a hotel’s cleanliness (true) and are just a result of travelers (also true) and I should probably do my laundry and call a professional (obviously), and oh, won’t you please stay with us again?

I wasn’t about to spend thousands of dollars on professional extermination brought on by the hotel’s own negligence, so I asked about their plan to cover my fumigation costs. After a few days of general corporate non-answers, they explained that they had to follow the appropriate process and get their insurance company involved. Sounded good to me — they’d already said, in writing, that my room had bed bugs. Of course they were going to take responsibility for the situation.

_________

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I became BFFs with the crew at the laundromat.

Encouraged by the hotel’s management to “accelerate the process” at my personal cost (“keeping my receipts to be reimbursed”), I hired a pest control company. They decided to “bomb” my closet (where I’d hung unworn clothes from the trip and stored my luggage) and bookshelves (where I’d replaced paperwork and other books) with Nuvan strips and treat other potentially affected areas with Cryonite, a rapidly freezing carbon dioxide snow-like compound that goes by the tagline “The chill that kills”. Both treatments would require the items be out of commision for about a month. The total cost was just shy of $3,000.

Meanwhile, my battle ground had moved from the hotel to their insurance company. I was required to give a recorded statement to a claims specialists describing the ordeal. During our conversation, the specialist asked multiple times whether I’d turned down cleaning services at all during my stay. Luckily, I hadn’t. Turns out this is because checking for bed bugs is part of the cleaning checklist. If I’d told them to stay out of the room, then they wouldn’t have had a chance to inspect (however poorly) for bed bugs. This gave me leverage. (Ever since, I always accept the cleaning service — you can still tell them not to replace your sheets for environmental reasons, but at least allow them to come in and remake the bed.)

On top of all this, I’d learned via the public bedbug registry (it’s a thing!) that other guests had had the same problem around the same time. Given that irrefutable evidence, it’s understandable how livid I was that when the insurance company called a couple weeks later to let me know they determined the hotel not at fault.

A vendetta was born. I became a woman with a single mission: Make. Them. Pay.

___________

My apartment has a few recessed areas like this which are easy to seal off and treat.

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Luckily, my apartment has a few recessed areas like this which are easy to seal off and treat.

I’ve spent most of my career in online publishing in some form or another. I fully understand the power of SEO. And as a hotel — or anyone in the service industry — you reputation is everything. I started searching and found that there were multiple variations of “HOTELNAMEhasbedbugs.com” available. Two minutes later, I was the proud owner of a new URL. It was incredibly cathartic. I started dreaming of how I would detail every story, every photo and every dollar of my ordeal — all due to this hotel — to the world. I had mentally psyched myself up for my inevitable appearance on The Today Show during which my chyron would read “’Crazy Bed Bug Lady’ publically shames hotel into taking responsibility for their mistake”.

I sent word of my plans to the hotel, making it clear that I, too, could be a pest who wouldn’t go away.

After a month of continual phone calls, strongly worded emails and more conversations with their insurance company, I finally received an email from the hotel manager stating that “due to the nature of our business as well as our understanding of your frustration with this situation we would like as a hotel, regardless of fault, [to] reimburse you for the expenses you submitted.” Save your receipts, kids! I signed some papers — hence why I haven’t mentioned the chain’s name — and got my check. Blood had been shed (well, more like feasted on) but the battle had been won.

A few weeks later, I was able to remove the plastic sealing off my bookshelves and closet, and I no longer needed to pick my clothes out of trash bags. I was able to stop going to the laundromat every other day and I felt comfortable, kind of, replacing my duvet and bringing things into my house. Roscoe, the bed bug detecting beagle, did a complete sniff-test and cleared my apartment. I was happier to receive that piece of paper than I was my college degree.

__________

I recently found this guy crawling on my floor and I freaked out. I sent pics to the exterminators I used but it was just a beetle. Phew!

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I found this guy crawling on my floor and I freaked out, sent pics to the exterminators. But it was just a beetle.

But there are still times when I’m not convinced. I find a random, itchy bump on my elbow and tense up. I wake up to a red spot on the back of my shin and I’m flipping over the mattress. Earlier this summer, I was at a wedding in the Catskills where all of the guests stayed in cabins and when I got back to New York, I noticed my back looked like a game of connect the dots. I sent a text to the group asking “What’s everyone’s bug bite situation? I have so many it’s unreal. I’m nervous…” I wasn’t the only one.

A few hours later, we figured out we were dealing with chiggers, not bed bugs. While the others slept soundly that night, I dug out my markers and dotted each bite I could reach before going to bed and woke up early to do my laundry before work. Just in case.

That’s the thing with bed bugs. They’re not going to make you sick, or cause you any actual harm. But they can slowly drive you crazy, cost you more than twice your rent money, and make you fear for every bite, itch and bump you’ll ever have, for the rest of your life.

And while a business can’t possibly return your sense of security, they absolutely can — and should — take responsibility for their errors and make sure you don’t drain your savings (or go into debt) trying to recover from their mistake. If it comes down to it, just take a cue from our blood-sucking friends and keep at it for as long as you need to (and maybe register a domain name or two). Eventually, they’ll do whatever it takes to make you go away.

FDNY ambulance taken out of service for bedbugs

June 21,2019  NEW YORK — by Stephen Rex Brown

New York’s lifesavers are no match for New York’s scariest insect.

“Do not open!” said a sign attached to a stationary EMS ambulance in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“Bedbugs!” read a second warning note. Underneath, tape had been used to draw a sad face on the doors of the FDNY rig. (Photo/ Wikimedia Commons)

“Bedbugs!” read a second warning note. Underneath, tape had been used to draw a sad face on the doors of the FDNY rig. (Photo/ Wikimedia Commons)

“Bedbugs!” read a second warning note. Underneath, tape had been used to draw a sad face on the doors of the FDNY rig.

An FDNY spokesman said the ambulance was taken out of service on Monday and “sealed in accordance to department procedure.” It was treated by exterminators Thursday. The crew is fine, the spokesman added.

The FDNY did not provide any theories about how bedbugs infested the ambulance.

John McKinney spotted the contaminated wagon at Metropolitan Ave. and Roebling St. around noon. The East Williamsburg resident got an itch to take a photo, which he passed along to the Daily News.

“First pizza rats, now ambulance bedbugs — what’s next, toilet crocs?” McKinney joked. “This city is buggin’ out.”

———

©2019 New York Daily News

 

Starbucks accused of exposing New York City customers to toxic pesticide

NBC

One of two lawsuits filed against the coffee company states that Starbucks stores “have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide.”

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A sign hangs in the window of a Starbucks store on May 29, 2018 in Chicago.                                           Scott Olson / Getty Images

May 21, 2019, 3:32 PM EDT
By Minyvonne Burke
Two lawsuits filed against Starbucks claim that several New York City stores exposed customers to a poisonous — and potentially deadly — pesticide toxin, and then fired a store manager who complained about them.

In one class action suit, filed on Tuesday in state court in Manhattan, 10 Starbucks customers claim that they were “exposed to the toxic chemical” Dichlorvos, or DDVP, after making purchases in multiple city stores over the last three years.

DDVP is an ingredient that is emitted into the air by a pesticide called Hot Shot No-Pest Strips, which are produced by Spectrum Brand Holdings.

The lawsuit states that Starbucks uses the strips in its Manhattan stores to keep cockroaches and other pests away. The strips, which can be purchased in many home and garden stores as well as online, kill insects but are also harmful to human beings, according to the lawsuit.

Spectrum Brand Holdings did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment.

Photos accompanying the lawsuit show the strips next to bagels and food preparation equipment and near air vents.

“Starbucks stores throughout Manhattan have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide called Dichlorvos, which is highly poisonous and completely unfit for use in proximity to food, beverages and people,” the suit says.

The lawsuit states that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says pesticides containing DDVP should only be used in enclosed spaces where people are either not present or are given a respirator or other breathing apparatus.

According to the Hot Shot website, the strips should not be used “in kitchens, restaurants or areas where food is prepared or served.”
Exposure to DDVP can result in symptoms which include loss of bladder control, muscle tremors and weakness, trouble breathing, nausea and paralysis, the lawsuit states. Severe exposure can result in coma and death.

“On numerous occasions over the last several years, Starbucks’ employees and third-party exterminators have informed regional and district management – both verbally and in writing – about the improper and dangerous use of No-Pest Strips throughout stores in Manhattan,” according to the lawsuit.

“Needless to say, Starbucks has closely held this information and has not disclosed to the public that DDVP has poisoned the environment in its stores.”

The suit alleges that the customers, who are from New York, South Carolina and California, experienced emotional distress and anxiety “that they would develop serious health issues.” They are seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

In the second suit, also filed Tuesday in Manhattan’s federal court, a former Starbucks employee claims he was abruptly fired in February 2018 after complaining about the misuse of the pesticide strips.

A pest control technician who worked at multiple Manhattan Starbucks locations, and his supervisor, also allege that from 2016 to 2018 they made several complaints about the strips. In June 2018, Starbucks terminated its contract with the pest control company to silence the technician’s “repeated reports and complaints about the foregoing risks to health and safety,” according to the suit.

The former employee, technician and supervisor are seeking unspecified damages.

A spokesperson for Starbucks said Tuesday that the pesticide strips were being used in violation of its policy and once it was made aware of the complaints, the company stopped using them. The spokesperson also said they hired an outside expert who determined that Starbucks’ customers and employees were not put at risk.

Bedbug ridden hotel in New York’s Uper West Side – Filmed

January 2, 2016 | by Siobhan McFadyen | Mirror Online

Don’t be fooled by its salubrious Central Park address because this hotel is most definitely not on the luxury list…Astor on the Park Hotel.

This horrible video shows the moment a frustrated traveler filmed inside his Manhattan hotel room to show its bed bug infestation.

YouTube user Elgin Ozlen recorded his experience at the accommodation, in New York’s upper west side , and posted it for the world to see.

In the six minute film the guest records footage of his experience on his mobile phone explaining he’s frustrated because he’s been forced to move room three times.

There is no mistaking it, the Astor on the Park hotel has a serious bed bug infestation.

While most people would be put off by the idea of staying somewhere with no heating, and a lack of electricity in the power sockets as he explains – it’s not until he uncovers the disgusting bed bugs that it’s really apparent just how bad this hotel is.

He says: “This is no joke. We’re not staying in the Bronx. We’re not staying in Queens. We’re not staying in Brooklyn. This is Manhattan ,”

And he’s not alone it seems.

A Trip Advisor user also reviewed the hotel saying he was “eaten alive” by bedbugs.

He wrote: “I was eaten alive by bedbugs.  I am not talking one or two bites, my whole arm looked like i was diseased.”

“I was bitten by bedbugs in a grotty motel in Bangkok – this was worse.”

“The staff at the counter seemed concerned, and for our second night the maintenance man came and gave the room and mattress a spray with some bug killer, and it appeared to help, I only got a few bites the second night.

 “I have heard that bedbugs are everywhere in NYC at the moment, so I was quite understanding, and only asked for one nights refund.”

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New York – Manhattan’s Astor on the Park Hotel

They told me they did not handle refunds, and I had to go through my booking agency ( GetaRoom.com ) and they would sort it out.

“I contacted GetaRoom.com, and they said I needed a written confirmation from the hotel.  They told me I did not need to do this.  I don’t understand why the reception girls did not just open the till and give me a refund, or call their manager.”

“I am still waiting to hear back.”

Bed bugs are so common in New York that the Department of Public Health has a specialist website dedicated to educating people on how to get rid of them.

A number of offices, residences and hotels have had to be shut in order to be fumigated in recent years.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

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