Elmhurst COVID-19 outbreak linked to Orangetheory Fitness; 18 cases confirmed

ELMHURST, Ill. (WLS) -- DuPage County health officials are investigating 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 that are all tied back to an Orangetheory Fitness facility in west suburban Elmhurst.

The location is back open Tuesday, just days after the outbreak.

"Try to have group exercise outside if you can, because air flow makes a difference," said Dr. Poonam P. Thaker. "If you are in a closed environment with a lot of people, the chances of exposure and sustained exposure are higher."

Dr. Thaker, the program director of sports medicine fellowship at Amita Health Resurrection Medical Center, said the virus can spread more easily during indoor group fitness classes. She recommended exercising outside, and reminded people not to share gear.

"Dedicated equipment, making sure you clean that equipment, making sure they do not migrate around the room, and that you are only in your bubble," she said.

According to Orangetheory Fitness, their workouts during the pandemic are designed to minimize cross-contamination. The company also said staff cleans between classes and conducts temperature checks at the door.

"There is no way to be 100% safe," Thacker said. "We are talking about risk mitigation here. Minimize the risk to yourself and everyone else."

In a statement, Orangetheory Fitness management said in part, "We are working with local health authorities in the contact tracing process to identify any additional cases as soon as possible. We are constantly examining and evolving our internal policies and processes to ensure the safety of our staff and members, and are committed to ongoing vigilance in all of our studios..."

Elmhurst overall is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. New data from the DuPage County health department shows a 10% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

People who live in the area hope the rise in cases serves as another reminder that the virus is still out there, and still spreading.

"I am feeling as concerned as one should be," said Todd Benson, Elmhurst resident. "This is not make believe."

"You cannot have a bunch of people together when there is a virus like this going around," said Meg Sullivan, Elmhurst resident.
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