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Axios' Kendall Baker and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (R). Photo: Axios

Gyms that follow coronavirus mitigation strategies — like enforcing masks, social distancing, and prompt cleaning — should stay open when possible under local guidelines, Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona said at a virtual Axios event on Tuesday.

Where it stands: Several states have shuttered gyms as coronavirus cases rise, or introduced limitations on how many customers can be inside the facility at once, per a New York Times tracker.

What he's saying: "And I think first and foremost, whatever you're doing, we have to adhere to the best public health practices, social distancing, wearing a mask, stay within your own bubble at home. Don't be interacting with lots of people you don't know, things like that," Carmona said.

  • "Now when you take it to a gym ... you have to really step up and make sure the staff is on board, there's a team approach, there's cleaning, there's social distancing, there's masking, machines are separated much further apart now so that we have the social distancing."
  • "So I think when those best public health practices can be applied, we should consider letting those facilities stay open when possible based on epidemiologic data, because people need that social connection."
  • Carmona noted that "mental health and physical health are connected inextricably," and it was important for people to stay active during the pandemic.

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Jan 8, 2021 - Health

Why some experts want to relax vaccine prioritization

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Some political leaders and public health experts are rethinking strict prioritization for coronavirus vaccines, suggesting that it might make more sense to simply try to administer as many doses as possible as quickly as possible.

Why it matters: Especially while supplies are still limited, there's an inherent tension between trying to focus first on the people most at risk from the virus — including those most likely to spread it — and getting shots into arms at maximum speed.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."