Raleigh, North Carolina – Cheer Extreme in South Raleigh will be closed until November 1 after nine people linked to the acrobatics program tested positive for the coronavirus in a single week.
Kelly Helton, owner and operator of the gym, said three coaches and six athletes tested positive last week, but none of them were seriously ill. Prior to that, only seven cases were linked to the gymnasium since it reopened in late May, she said.
“We have the gym sanitized every week from a professional company. We have literally done everything you can do,” she said.
Despite precautions during training – temperature checks, masks required, and regular application of disinfectant – Helton was not surprised to see cases appear.
“I can do whatever I can to try and control what’s going on inside the gym, but once things start to reopen as schools have reopened for some of my kids, their parents allow them to go see their friends. We can’t live in fear either, “she said.
The change in habits and the current flu season will require more diligence to keep his athletes active, Helton said.
“It’s a competitive sport. You can’t really go months in a row without doing it and then expect to be at the same level as you were when you came back, ”she said.
Helton said Cheer Extreme is more than just physical activity for participants and families understand the risk. The gymnasium has posted detailed COVID protocols, including how they handle notifications when a person tests positive.
“They all made the decision. They know the risk associated with being in larger groups, and they agree because joy means a lot to these children, ”she said.
She informed anyone who was in close contact with any of the people who tested positive. The worst symptoms so far have been headaches and loss of taste and smell, she said.