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Imagine for a moment that we’ve just received a message from an alien race in a galaxy far, far away.

“Hey, Earthlings,” it reads. “Want to hang out?”

Despite Elon Musk’s protests, our response would probably be something along the lines of “We’re in a weird place right now . . . can you call back later?”

While the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be behind us, and most countries have begun reopening, many restrictions remain in place around the world. Social distancing, mask wearing, occupancy limitations, and border closures are all in effect, and now the question on everyone’s mind is, When can we open up completely?

After all, the original goal of the lockdowns, social distancing, and so forth was to “flatten the curve”—to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by an onslaught of COVID-19 patients—but that threat never seemed to materialize.

For example, in New York City, one of the hardest hit areas in the U.S., hospitals reached about 85% capacity, and intensive care units hit about 90% capacity during the worst phase of the pandemic. High, yes, but not overflowing.

In Virginia, 75% of ventilators and nearly 6,000 hospital beds were unused or empty back in April, and that number is likely much lower now. Instead of increasing demand for doctors, the pandemic resulted in thousands of healthcare workers being laid off due to a reduction in non-COVID-19-related visits.

What’s more, the CDC reports that people exhibiting flu- or COVID-19-like symptoms only made up about 7% of total hospitalizations in the U.S. in March, and now it’s under 2%.

In other words, the curve was flattened.

However, now the target seems to have changed from “flattening the curve” to “finding a cure,” which, while laudable, is a goal that could take years to bear fruit.

Thus, our current predicament has divided society into two camps.

On the one hand, many people want to begin strategically reopening certain places, based on the available evidence and careful cost-benefit analyses of what that would mean for the population.

On the other hand, there are those that think any further reopenings would be reckless, and until we find a cure, concoct a vaccine, or have all but eradicated COVID-19, we need to get used to “the new normal.”

While only time will tell who’s right in the main, a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Oslo offers some guidance on what would happen if countries were to open one kind of business—gyms.

Before we look at what they discovered, let’s quickly examine a more fundamental question that relates to reopenings on the whole.

If you want to learn about gym reopening, listen to this episode!

Time Stamps:

15:38 – Has the cure become worse than the disease?

22:07 – Will reopening gyms increase the risk of catching or spreading the virus?

30:56 – Is the gym safe?

Mentioned on the show: 

Books by Mike Matthews

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

+ Scientific References