Although Maricopa County has not reached the new benchmarks established by the state to lift Gov. Doug Ducey’s closure of gyms and fitness centers, the Rec Centers of Sun City West is preparing for that eventuality.
Ducey’s order originally closed gyms through July 27. However, that was extended and was set to be “reviewed for repeal or revision every two weeks.” This week, the Arizona Department of Health Services released new benchmarks for gyms, fitness centers and theaters to reopen. Those benchmarks require cases, percent positivity in tests, and COVID-like illnesses reported to hospitals to be below their current levels before affected businesses can reopen.
Once the benchmarks are reached, the Rec Centers will move to reopen its facilities as soon as possible, but there is a formal process to complete with the Arizona Department of Health Services before that can happen.
“We would like to remind our members that this is not as simple as unlocking the doors,” said General Manager Bill Schwind. “The executive order requires us to submit a formal response to the Arizona Department of Health Services, attesting to the fact we meet the current ADHS COVID-19 guidelines for business operations. Once that is accepted, we will reopen.”
Additional details about the benchmarks can be found on the ADHS website under its Business Dashboard. They include two levels; in the first, the centers may reopen at 25 percent capacity; in the second, the centers may reopen at 50 percent capacity. The Rec Centers will likely open at even lower capacities due to physical distancing requirements and the need to eliminate congregation points.
In summary, the state’s benchmarks include the following (for two consecutive weeks in Maricopa County):
- Cases per 100,000 must be below 100 per 100,000 population
- Percent positivity must be below 10 percent
- Hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses must be below 10 percent
Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see an infographic of the state’s benchmarks.
Plans call for the fitness centers at R.H. Johnson and Palm Ridge recreation centers to open once the benchmarks are met; once the Association’s “attestation” is accepted; and as soon as personnel and adequate cleaning supplies are in place. That may require the centers to open on different dates. Logistics are still being worked out. The reopening would not include the table tennis and racquetball at R.H. Johnson in the initial reopening. Kuentz and Beardsley will remain closed. (Clubs at Kuentz and Beardsley that were opened earlier remain open.)
“Once the benchmarks are met, we would only open two fitness centers for the foreseeable future,” said Schwind. “There are two reasons for this. First, the Kuentz renovation and expansion is well underway, leaving much of the facility inaccessible at various times; plus we don’t want to mix residents with construction equipment. Secondly, we are having to shift some of our staff from Beardsley and Kuentz to the other two facilities to meet the ADHS requirements for reopening.”
Shifting of personnel may mean that only one center opens initially. Additional staff are needed to provide temperature checks, continuous sanitation practices, and ensure members are wearing masks, as required by ADHS. “As we’ve mentioned before, you don’t have to like the masks, but you do have to wear them,” said Schwind. “Failure to comply can result in ADHS shutting us down and member privileges being revoked. Sadly, we’ve already had to revoke privileges for a few members after they failed to heed multiple warnings and continued to refuse the health-related county mandate.”
All members entering the fitness center/pool lobbies will be screened with contactless thermometers, regardless of whether they are entering a gym, pool or indoor walking track. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see the poster that will be placed at fitness centers addressing temperature screenings.
Once reopened, the fitness centers will have a sign-up sheet for one-hour reservations. Between each one hour block, a half-hour is reserved for staff to sanitize the entire gym and equipment. Additional cleaning will occur on the equipment between users, per ADHS. Members must sign up in person; guests are not allowed. No more than 10 individuals and up to two residents who are utilizing personal training services will be allowed in the gyms at one time.
The last phase of the Rec Centers reopening plan involves the social clubs and those such as dancing, exercise and others that require physical interaction. Those are still closed until further guidance from the CDC and ADHS allows for them to resume operations. Some clubs that opened earlier have announced they are voluntarily closing. Check suncitywest.com/covid19 for the latest on club openings.
Watch for all the latest at suncitywest.com/covid19 and sign up for the enews at suncitywest.com/enews.
Note, the stats presented here are for Maricopa County only, and are by week. Stats you may be used to seeing on the regular Arizona Department of Health “Data Dashboard” are cumulative. For the weekly county statistics that will determine when we can reopen, visit the ADHS Business Dashboard and scroll down to see the metrics. We will update this metrics dashboard on a weekly basis, so please check back.
Click the button below to see the poster that will be posted at fitness centers when they reopen. All users will have mandatory temperature checks with a contactless thermometer.
I understand that there are health concerns for our (my) demographic and I will do my best to honor the guidelines. However, my demographic only has a short time left even if healthy so I encourage us to open everything we can as soon as we can while we can. Peace to all!!
I am really concern on reopening our fitness and have used our center for 10 years. I use it to control my anxiety and depression.’I found by using the cardio equipment I feel better and my level of anxiety and depression is a lot lower and I fine myself feeling a lot better. I swim laps and usually I swim for one hour doing laps and really feel good about myself and without the facility I would have a bad day. I do the same in fitness room and usually pick certain equipment and I have a work out program plan and after I work out I feel better and I get up and call in to reserve a bike and ride for a half hour. Then go from there and use the elliptical for half hour. I turn 82 years old on October 31st and I don’t feel I could of kept this up if I had not kept my activity on both areas. So I hope we can get everyone to cooperate wearing their mask and we work with the staff on cleaning the area al all times. I give my thanks to the staff in taking the time to clean after they are done in any area and helping those who may need help with their needs.
Thank you staff members and I feel we need every one to go the extra mile to pick up after they are done.
EXTREMELY well done to protect the residence of SCW. My hat is off to you!!!
It appears that most SCW residents that I know have not been tested. We have not been encouraged to be tested unless we feel any symptoms. Messaging from both federal and state have been mixed and unclear. It seems to me that to get the positively rate reduced we need to have healthy people tested. Also it would be good to know if there are non symptomatic residents. Also how many in our zip have been tested?
Your emails and articles in the Independent could get out the word to get more residents tested which could speed up reopenings.
You did not mention limits on people using the swimming lanes at Palm Ridge. And, again, the Governor did not close in-door swimming polls, he closed water parks. Risk of infection from swimming in an in-door pool is very low according to some data that I read.
Mr. Schwind, whatever it takes; get our fitness centers open. We are hurting. Our bodies are hurting. I’m more than happy to comply with any guidelines you feel necessary. I’m ready!!!!
WHEN IS BEARDSLEY POOL GOING TO OPEN IT HAS BEEN CLOSED TOO LONG
When will indoor water aerobics classes be available?
When will indoor water aerobics classes be available
What are the bar graph legends defined as? They are unlabeled.
Please reopen the card rooms with requirements as needed for safety. It’s been too long to prevent this activity. It’s badly needed for mental safety.
The reply is accurate
Superior Court Judge Thomason ruled that gyms be open. That’s all the authorization you need to open our rec. center gyms. We have been held hostage long enough with this Covid nonsense, Not only have we been unable to use our facilities for 5 months, the board has voted to raise our rec. fee dues $17. for each resident per year. All the excuses by the board to raise dues for maintenance, employee pay rates, etc. etc. that was published in the Independent doesn’t hold water. Where did you put the $2.1 million dollars from the Government for the Covid payroll plan ????? You are feeding us a lot of BS.
Hello Judy Gilpin. On Aug. 4 Judge Timothy Thomason ruled for Governor Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services to provide indoor gyms and fitness centers an opportunity to apply for reopening. By that order, Gov. Ducey and AZDHS have provided specific benchmarks that need to be met before the Rec Centers can apply for indoor fitness centers to be reopened. For residents that are interested in learning about the state’s new benchmarks, we encourage them to read any of our recent press releases that address the reopening process. They can be found on our website or social media pages. Residents can also learn more by visiting the AZDHS website: https://www.azdhs.gov/documents/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/novel-coronavirus/community/indoor-gyms-fitness-centers.pdf
We would also like to clear up any confusion surrounding our PPP loan. We were among the 500-plus Arizona companies who received PPP loans. Our Association lost revenue during the pandemic shutdown which otherwise would have gone toward operational costs. The entire purpose of the loan was to keep people employed and to offset losses incurred by salaries, utilities, etc. Just because we have money showing on the books does not mean we did not qualify for the loan. In fact, our state and federal representatives encouraged us to apply for the loan. This allowed us to keep employees on the payroll rather than sending them to unemployment, which again was the purpose of the loan. We are in the process of compiling our expenditures and revenue losses related to the pandemic, as we are subject to federal audit. It has yet to be determined if we are eligible for loan forgiveness. If not, we return the money. That’s why it is sitting in a designated account. The decisions to apply and move forward on a PPP application was unanimously approved by our Governing Board, which is elected by our members to represent them. If you have further questions, we encourage you to visit the Sun City West YouTube channel and review the videos of our public meetings where this was discussed or join us in September for meetings when we will be publicly reviewing the outcome of our loan forgiveness.