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Tempe Closes City Gyms To Slow COVID-19's Spread — Again

Coronavirus cases have topped 5,000 across the state of Arizona for two days running, so the city of Tempe is restricting services to keep people healthy.

Tempe will once again close city-owned gyms on Monday, spokesperson Melissa Quillard announced Friday. The Kiwanis, North Tempe, Escalante and Westside community centers themselves will remain open, but their fitness centers will close indefinitely.

Quillard explained Tempe had to respond to a rapidly evolving situation.

“Back in October, we were facing 500 new cases a day. For the past two days in a row, we've been facing 5,000 new cases a day," Quillard said. "Clearly, that's alarming. Clearly, that's a significant increase, and the city believes that something needed to be done to help mitigate that.”

These community centers are also canceling tournaments to cut back on large group gatherings. However, the centers will continue to offer after-school programs and other services, with social distancing and face-covering requirements in place. The Kiwanis Tennis Center, Tempe Public Library and outdoor playgrounds around the city remain open.

Quillard pointed out that county and state regulations limiting occupancy and mandating face masks still stand for the privately owned gyms and businesses throughout Tempe. She said most complaints about businesses not following COVID rules have been quick fixes.

“The vast majority of Tempe businesses have done a tremendous job of adhering to the guidelines and altering their operations,” Quillard said. "They've figured out creative ways to serve people still, while implementing all of those protocols."

The Arizona Department of Health Services has set up a hotline at 844-410-2157 and an online form here for the public to report any coronavirus-related safety concerns.

Austin Fast joined KJZZ in 2020 as he finished his master's degree in investigative journalism at Arizona State's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.Before moving to Phoenix, he covered the world’s largest wild salmon fishery at KDLG Public Radio in rural Alaska, wrote breaking news at a Cincinnati TV station, and taught English overseas with the Peace Corps. He now works on the investigations team at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C.