California owner reopens gym, defies stay-at-home orders

Defying directives laid out by the state, owner Jacob Lewis reopened his gym in San Bernardino county, California last week.

Some gym-goers are wearing masks. Others are not.

And Lewis says he's fine with it.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) THE GYM HD OWNER, JACOB LEWIS, SAYING

"I'm big on the constitution so if you want to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you don't, don't. If you want to come in, great, use it, if you don't want to come in, stay at home. That's all it comes down to. That's the second reason for reopening and going against the grain. Those two things, mental health and freedom. At the end of the day, it's freedom."

As of Monday, Lewis said there have been no calls to shut down his gym in the city of Victorville. Despite orders by the California Governor Gavin Newsom back in March to close all gyms across the state. And customers are showing up.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) GYM MEMBER, RICHARD OGDEN, SAYING:

"Most everybody are staying about six feet away. Some people wear masks but I should have worn mine. I left mine outside but I should have worn it. Maybe I'll wear it tomorrow. I'll wear it tomorrow if I need to."

Governor Newsom, a Democrat, said he would allow some "low-risk" businesses like bookstores to re-open beginning on Friday and he said communities with low incidents of infection could possibly be released early from additional restrictions. But no green light has been given yet for gyms.

Health experts warn of breaking social distancing guidelines too soon - while the virus is still spreading.

Lewis - though - says he's not concerned about future outbreaks.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) THE GYM HD OWNER, JACOB LEWIS, SAYING

"There's not going to be. There's not going to be. Look at the CDC. I'm a numbers guy. I don't think on emotion, I think on logic and numbers and that's it. That's all. It's not going to happen. Watch. You'll see.”

But the numbers are telling a more worrisome story. Cases and deaths continue to rise not just in California but nationwide.

And on Monday researchers behind a widely watched model issued an ominous new forecast – that nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August… almost double what it is today.

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