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Life Time requests access to all Minnesota government data about gyms and COVID-19

Life Time wants access to all documents, letters, emails, text messages, notes, reports and meeting minutes.
Life Time

Life Time Fitness is going to shut down per Gov. Tim Walz's latest executive order aimed at slowing down the spread of COVID-19, but the fitness giant remains unhappy with the governor's decision.

On Friday, Life Time filed a data practices request as it wants to see all communication from state officials regarding information about fitness centers and COVID-19 dating back to March 6, 2020. The filing requests access to any data from documents, letters, emails, text messages, notes, reports and meeting minutes. 

It also seeks all information related specifically to Life Time Fitness. 

Minnesota fitness centers were ordered to close at 11:59 p.m. Friday for four weeks as part of the governor's latest pandemic-related orders. Walz, speaking on a press call Friday, said he'll provide Life Time whatever it needs in a "timely manner." 

"We will gladly provide all the data they request," said Walz. "Their frustrations and their desire to do this are not malicious. They are simply looking out for their interest, which they should."

On Tuesday, just hours before Walz ordered gyms to close, Life Time CEO Bahram Akradi argued with the state's reasoning for shutting gyms and fitness centers down, saying the data the state cites doesn't paint the picture that they are a problem.

According to the data, 48 outbreaks at Minnesota clubs have contact traced for a total of 747 cases out of the 242,043 total cases, though health officials have noted that the point of transmission in the community in a growing number of cases is unknown.

That means while there may be 747 "primary" cases linked to gyms and fitness centers, the number of secondary and tertiary infections that result from the original infectee could put the true number in the thousands.

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Nonetheless Akradi argues that gyms are safe, saying: "If the facts supported that closing our healthy-way-of-life places would be beneficial to the public, we would be doing it voluntarily, immediately.

"We have brought back 4,000 of our people since we reopened the clubs in Minnesota. With a complete shutdown, which I will not accept, I would have to send 4,000 employees back home at a time when there is no stimulus money for them, right before the holidays. How can we do this?" he said. 

Speaking about the connection between physical and mental health on Friday, Walz said he's aware of that "strong connection" but the data shows fitness centers, where people are "breathing heavily," can be dangerous with the current level of COVID-19 transmission in Minnesota. 

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said: "We do have numbers that do quantify some level of risk, but it's really just the inherent risk in the environment."

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