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A gym trainer exposed 50 athletes to Covid-19, but no one else got sick because of a ventilation redesign – CNN

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Velvet Minnick, 44, is the owner and head coach at 460 Fitness in Blacksburg, Virginia. Like many gym owners across the nation, she was forced to shut down the facility in March due to coronavirus. They rented out equipment and held Zoom classes, but it wasn’t long before members were burned out.
As the state entered Phase 2 of reopening in June, Minnick was allowed to have athletes back inside her facility. She knew one member, however, who could help her get people back while keeping them safe.
Linsey Marr, 46, is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and joined 460 Fitness about two years ago. She has an expertise in airborne transmission of viruses, air quality and nanotechnology.
When gyms closed in March, there was a lot of talk in the CrossFit community about the mental health benefits of working out and some owners were lobbying for their gyms to stay open. While that didn’t work, it did get them included in the early phases of reopening. And it kick-started this gym’s reopening plan and safety procedures.
Minnick consulted Marr on ventilation as well as strict hygiene and distancing protocols to keep athletes as safe as possible while they were working out.
“I knew the virus was transmitted mainly through the air so I thought it was really important to have good ventilation so everyone wasn’t able to breathe it,” Marr told CNN.
Minnick created athlete stations near the bay doors that gave each one 10 feet of space. The stations are marked on the floor with orange tape and have all of the necessary equipment located inside. There’s no traveling about the gym or doing partner workouts while sharing equipment.
The gym's new layout allows for proper airflow.
“Ten feet of space has always been my mantra,” Marr said, which is more than the recommended six feet because people in the gym would be working out and breathing heavily.
Because Minnick built the facility, she had the engineering and HVAC documents to share with Marr.
“I did the calculations on how big the space was, what the typical wind speeds were in the area and if the doors were open what would the resulting ventilation be?” Marr said.
She found that the space provided far more fresh air than required by the professional organization, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, which gives recommendations for ventilation. Looking at other research and studies, Marr talked with experts on what ventilation rate is necessary to really cut down the risk of transmission indoors.
“We don’t see outbreaks above a certain threshold,” Marr said. “And the gym with the open doors was way above that.”
The gym uses this carbon dioxide detector.The gym uses this carbon dioxide detector.
Marr said they are now actually able to close the doors a bit more than they initially thought and still meet that ventilation standard using a carbon dioxide monitor to track indoor levels.
“Carbon dioxide is exhaled breath and is a good indicator of how much viruses might be building up in the air,” Marr said.
Depending on the weather and the comfort level of the athletes in the gym, they may open the doors more or less. And athletes always have the option of taking their equipment outside.
In September, when Minnick learned that one of her coaches wasn’t feeling well, she wasn’t initially worried. While he thought it was just allergies, he soon lost his sense of smell and taste, Minnick said, so he got tested for coronavirus. She asked him to quarantine until he received his results.
When it came back positive, they first determined that he contracted the virus outside of the gym at another environment where he was indoors. Then, she ran a test in the system to see who he had coached prior to getting sick.
The original layout of 460 Fitness.The original layout of 460 Fitness.
Minnick personally contacted all 50 athletes and checked in with them for a two-week period. A few people decided to get tested, but not one member developed symptoms.
“I contacted all of my members on a Monday,” Minnick said. “And then the … health department contact tracers. They did not even notify me of the direct exposure until Wednesday. With something like this, it’s so important to know right away.”
Even after a potential exposure and with dropping temperatures as winter approaches, the gym remains diligent with its procedures and athletes continue to adjust.
There are no sweaty post-workout hugs and no high fives. Often the class has a conversation about if the doors are staying open or closed. If they want them closed to stay warm, every member must wear a mask.
“Members are willing to go that extra mile, to be cold, to be wet, to endure, just so that they can be safe,” Minnick said. “They’ll do whatever it takes to have the benefits of exercise.”

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This rocks! Western University student spots never-before-seen asteroid – Belleville Intelligencer

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A Western University astronomy student from Chatham, who’s been stargazing since he was a kid, has discovered an asteroid through remote access to a telescope in Spain.

Graduate student Cole Gregg, 22, was using a telescope based at an observatory known as Astrocamp to troll the night sky when he spotted the small, fast-moving, flashing object.

His find — an asteroid estimated to be about 50 to 100 metres long — came after months of seeing nothing notable during his studies. It was, to put it mildly, “unexpected,” Gregg said Wednesday.

“It was quite shocking. You are not really ready for it,” he said. “It takes you by surprise and it was very exciting.”

Using the telescope located on a Spanish mountaintop, Gregg said he observed the asteroid as it sped close to Earth, moving through near-space across Europe.

Gregg’s astronomy professor, Paul Wiegert, called it “a rare treat to be the first person to spot one of these visitors to our planet’s neighbourhood.”

Added Wiegert: “Astronomers around the globe are continuously monitoring near-Earth space for asteroids so this is certainly a feather in Cole’s cap.”


Western astronomy student Cole Gregg monitors the night skies. Gregg discovered the asteroid ALA2xH a week ago.

Gregg spotted the asteroid, given the temporary designation ALA2xH, on Nov. 18. Data collected about the asteroid was sent to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., to determine whether the observation was unique or not.

From there, it goes on their near-Earth object confirmation page.

Gregg used a website called Itelescope, which allows the public to access telescopes via the internet.

“A lot of people use them for the pretty astrophotography pictures, but they are quite capable of science as well,” Gregg said. “My project is proving that these small telescopes are quite capable of science.”

Despite their efforts, Gregg said they have not spotted the asteroid again “due to weather and unavailability of the telescopes.”

Gregg said he has been fascinated with space since he was camping as a boy and relished looking up at stars in the dark skies. “It sparked my interest.”

After completing his PhD in astronomy, he hopes to continue his research and teach.

“I’m interested in asteroids and comets and how they move, how they exist in the solar system and where they come from,” he said. “And how we can learn from our own solar system to understand . . . other solar systems in the galaxy.”

HRivers@postmedia.com


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This rocks! Western University student spots never-before-seen asteroid – Kingston This Week

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A Western University astronomy student from Chatham, who’s been stargazing since he was a kid, has discovered an asteroid through remote access to a telescope in Spain.

Graduate student Cole Gregg, 22, was using a telescope based at an observatory known as Astrocamp to troll the night sky when he spotted the small, fast-moving, flashing object.

His find — an asteroid estimated to be about 50 to 100 metres long — came after months of seeing nothing notable during his studies. It was, to put it mildly, “unexpected,” Gregg said Wednesday.

“It was quite shocking. You are not really ready for it,” he said. “It takes you by surprise and it was very exciting.”

Using the telescope located on a Spanish mountaintop, Gregg said he observed the asteroid as it sped close to Earth, moving through near-space across Europe.

Gregg’s astronomy professor, Paul Wiegert, called it “a rare treat to be the first person to spot one of these visitors to our planet’s neighbourhood.”

Added Wiegert: “Astronomers around the globe are continuously monitoring near-Earth space for asteroids so this is certainly a feather in Cole’s cap.”


Western astronomy student Cole Gregg monitors the night skies. Gregg discovered the asteroid ALA2xH a week ago.

Gregg spotted the asteroid, given the temporary designation ALA2xH, on Nov. 18. Data collected about the asteroid was sent to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., to determine whether the observation was unique or not.

From there, it goes on their near-Earth object confirmation page.

Gregg used a website called Itelescope, which allows the public to access telescopes via the internet.

“A lot of people use them for the pretty astrophotography pictures, but they are quite capable of science as well,” Gregg said. “My project is proving that these small telescopes are quite capable of science.”

Despite their efforts, Gregg said they have not spotted the asteroid again “due to weather and unavailability of the telescopes.”

Gregg said he has been fascinated with space since he was camping as a boy and relished looking up at stars in the dark skies. “It sparked my interest.”

After completing his PhD in astronomy, he hopes to continue his research and teach.

“I’m interested in asteroids and comets and how they move, how they exist in the solar system and where they come from,” he said. “And how we can learn from our own solar system to understand . . . other solar systems in the galaxy.”

HRivers@postmedia.com


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Dinosaur-era bird with scythe-like beak sheds light on avian diversity – CANOE

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“Amazing, small, delicate, fragile, challenging to study – all at the same time,” said Ohio University anatomy professor Patrick O’Connor, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature.

An illustration depicting the bird Falcatakely forsterae amidst non-avian dinosaurs and other creatures 68 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period in Madagascar. Photo by Illustration by Mark Witton /Handout via REUTERS

“Bird fossils are particularly rare in part because they have such delicate skeletons. Hollow bones aren’t great at surviving the fossilization process,” added paleontologist and study co-author Alan Turner of Stony Brook University in New York.

“Because of this, we need to be aware that we are probably under-sampling the Mesozoic diversity of birds. A newly discovered species like Falcatakely provides a taste of the tantalizing possibility of a greater diversity of form waiting to be discovered,” Turner said.

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Birds evolved from small feathered dinosaurs about 150 million years ago. Early birds retained many ancestral features including teeth. The Falcatakely fossil has a single conical tooth in the front part of the upper jaw. Falcatakely probably had a small number of teeth in life.

It belonged to an avian group, enantiornithines, that did not survive the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, ending the Cretaceous Period.

“Unlike the earliest birds such as Archaeopteryx, which in many ways still looked dinosaurian with their long tails and unspecialized snouts, enantiornithines like Falcatakely would have looked relatively modern,” Turner said.

It was in the underlying skeletal structure where its differences were more apparent, O’Connor added, with more similarities to dinosaurs like Velociraptor than modern birds.

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