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UNR’s Fitness Center Determined Hotspot For COVID-19

A brick building with five large panels of windows. There are letters on the building that say “E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center.”
Isaac Hoops
E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, on Wednesday Oct. 7, the day before it closed due to COVID-19.

Earlier in the week, the University of Nevada, Reno’s new president, former Gov. Brian Sandoval, announced that he would be closing the school’s fitness center. Sandoval defended his decision and said the gym was found to be a COVID-19 hotspot.

Sandoval said he closed the E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center after reviewing data that showed 60 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 visited the gym since the beginning of the semester, and six employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

A man in a gray suit stands behind a podium. There is a decorative board behind him with several of UNR's "N" logo, which is an uppercase N inside of a white box..
Credit Isaac Hoops / Nevada Sagebrush
Nevada Sagebrush
Former Governor Brian Sandoval speaks to reporters after the Nevada Board of Regents named him the 17th President of the University of Nevada, Reno on Thursday, September 17, 2020.

“Closing the Wiegand [Fitness] Center was not a decision we took lightly because we know how much we value it,” Sandoval said. “It was not a punishment in any sense of the word. It was because it is indeed a hotspot on campus, and having learned that there were several students that had visited there, and whether unknowingly, likely, that they were positive, that they were there.”

UNR officials say a majority of positive cases are stemming from off-campus activities, something Sandoval said the university has little control over.

“We have no jurisdiction over anything that is going on off-campus,” Sandoval said. “That’s always something that’s very difficult with the private housing and the off-campus housing.” 

Sandoval added that he won’t be allowing fans at the Wolf Pack’s season opener on Oct. 24 against Wyoming to comply with the state’s health directive that limits gatherings to 250 people. UNR officials say they will be looking at the data to determine if fans will be allowed at future games.

As a note of disclosure, the license to this station is owned by the Board of Regents to the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

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Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
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