PHOENIX — A court heard testimony from the current and former state health directors as a judge may soon decide if gyms can reopen soon.
Mountainside Fitness is headlining a lawsuit against the state claiming they were unfairly singled out by a governor's order forcing them to close their doors.
“Evidence should be what drives public policy,” Will Humble, the former Arizona Department of Health Services director, said.
Humble was a witness for Mountainside Fitness. He said with proper procedures, gyms could mitigate the risks of spreading the virus.
For Humble, the evidence points to gyms not being in the same class as bars or nightclubs.
“Not risk-free, not risk-free. I'm not saying that. But it certainly is not in the same risk category as a bar or a nightclub.” Humble said. “I do think the benefits of opening that facility outweigh the risks.”
Current state health director, Dr. Cara Christ, testified for the state and disagrees.
“The risk is really with the type of activity that they are doing and the intensity of breathing. And so that is what makes it very different than being in a grocery store or a hardware store.“ Dr. Christ said.
In short, Christ said those going to the gym are likely to be younger, in the demographic most likely to show no symptoms of the disease. This coupled with intense breathing during a work out makes it easier for the virus to spread.
“We know even if the guidelines are followed there is a higher inherent risk when you are exercising for the transmission of COVID-19,” Christ said.
Christ said while masks and social distancing help reduce the spread of the virus, it will not eliminate it.
Humble acknowledges gyms could become a breeding ground without things like masks, and social distancing. However, with those guidelines in place, the risk can be reduced to the level where the benefits of opening gyms outweigh the risks.
The biggest point for Humble is planning that needs to be followed.
"A plan in of itself is nothing, it’s just a sheet of paper. A plan is nothing on its own. Following a plan is what matters," Humble said.
Humble said he is not being paid by anyone for his testimony to sway his opinion.
As for a decision, that could come as soon as Tuesday.