NEW YORK -- The coronavirus has made a routine trip to the gym feel like a health threat.Many epidemiologists consider gyms to be among the highest-risk environments, and they were some of the last businesses to reopen in New York City in early September.Now gyms must comply with a long list of regulations. Checking in requires a health screening; masks are mandatory, even during the most strenuous workouts; only one-third of normal occupancy is allowed; and everyone must clean, then clean some more.At a Planet Fitness in Brooklyn, Dinara Izmagambetova, who wore a floral black face mask and had a sheen of sweat after completing a two-hour workout, said she was thrilled to be back in a gym. But safety measures had made it a less sociable experience, she said."I could ask someone" how to use a machine before the outbreak, Izmagambetova said. "Now I'm doing a lot of Googling."Despite all the safety guidelines, some fitness enthusiasts are reluctant to go back and many have adapted to virtual workouts and exercising outdoors. Sales of fitness equipment like kettlebells and Peloton bikes have skyrocketed as people brought their workouts home.Christopher Carbone plans to cancel his membership at a Planet Fitness branch near his home on Staten Island because of concerns about people who touch "the same equipment many times and excess sweat and breathing in range of others."Instead of going to the gym, Carbone will keep working out at home with a small set of hand weights.In normal times, gyms often served as places of solace, where fitness buffs and casual exercisers could sweat out the stresses of the day.Many former patrons are eager to return to their routines, and gym owners desperately need their business.But even as gyms have reopened, their future remains unclear. Some of them have had to shut down again after Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently designated parts of Brooklyn and Queens coronavirus hot spots.A Retro Fitness location in Rego Park, Queens, formerly in one of Cuomo's "red zones," expressed regret about closing on its Facebook page."We have done our best to stay open as long as possible to serve you," the post said, adding, "We support the city/county's decision as being in the best interest of our members, staff, and community to help curb the spread of Coronavirus."The gym was recently allowed to reopen as some restrictions were eased.Despite scientists' concerns, infection clusters connected to gyms in the United States have been relatively rare so far, though they have been reported in Hawaii and California."We're not seeing outbreaks tied to gyms as heavily as something like a bar or school," said Dr. Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist from George Mason University.Still, a number of the 2,000 or so gyms in New York state and fitness centers across the country face a fight for life. At least one-fourth of the more than 40,000 gyms in the United States could close by the end of the year, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, an industry group. A study by Yelp said that more than 2,600 already had.Many of those that have closed are smaller, independently owned businesses that have fewer resources than large national chains like Planet Fitness, LA Fitness and Equinox.Marco Guanilo, who owns Momentum Fitness on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, said he had struggled during the long months he was closed, but that about 50% of his business had returned since he reopened.Still, he was $300,000 in debt, much of it from back rent payments he could not pay. Guanilo said that he thought his business would endure as long as he could stay open. The recent state-imposed closures have made him anxious."I'm scared of another shutdown," Guanilo said, "because that will put us under."While major chains may have deeper pockets, many are also in dire straits. Gold's Gym, 24 Hour Fitness and Town Sports International -- the parent company of New York Sports Clubs -- have all filed for bankruptcy.Planet Fitness, which has more than 2,000 locations around the world and 40 in New York City, has also faced serious challenges. Its revenue was down nearly 80% from the same period last year, according to the company's second quarter earnings reportDespite the bleak numbers, Chris Rondeau, Planet Fitness's chief executive, said the company has managed to weather the pandemic."Cancels are a little bit higher, for sure," Rondeau said, but, he added, "people are joining at the same clip they were this time last year."Planet Fitness furloughed most of its employees during the pandemic, but about 85% of them have returned to work and no locations closed, Rondeau said.Across the country, states have imposed different regulations to reopen gyms safely. Most require occupancy limitations and at least 6 feet of social distancing, though some states mandate as much as 14 feet. Requirements for face coverings vary.Regulations differ even in the states neighboring New York: New Jersey only allows gyms to operate at 25% capacity, while Connecticut permits twice that.Before gyms in New York can reopen they must undergo an inspection over video with an official from the city's Health Department, showing that they have posted safety plans, have spaced machines apart and are using an up-to-code air filtration system.Fulfilling the requirements and stockpiling cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment can cost more than $10,000, a significant burden after months of inactivity.As of the beginning of October, the city had inspected more than 1,000 gyms, and only 11 had failed. Failing gyms can reopen once they fix the issues they were cited for. In-person inspections might begin in the near future, officials said.Popescu said she believed that "the virtual approach" to inspections "is frankly better than nothing, which is what many have done."Whatever the risk factor, gyms are certainly different these days.On a recent weekend at a large Planet Fitness branch in Brooklyn, a masked greeter asked clients whether they had coronavirus symptoms, then collected their contact information.Television screens flashed reminders to disinfect workout stations, and every other treadmill and elliptical machine was blocked out with yellow-and-purple signs that said, "We're practicing social fitnessing. This machine is not available for use." Even so, there were few people working out.One of them was Dana Fagan, a bookkeeper, 41, who said she was pleased by the precautions being taken."I'm cleaning more -- the whole thing is wet and I'm fine with that," she said about disinfecting the equipment. "You can never have enough."Guanilo's boutique gym normally offers group classes, physical therapy and individual sessions with trainers. The more controlled atmosphere at his gym, where patrons have individual sessions if they're not in a group class, appeals to people who are concerned about infection, like Joshua Rubin, a 38-year-old director at an accounting firm."There's not people wandering around using different machines," Rubin said. "There's only two to three of us at a time."Nearby, Jesse Damon, 46, stretched his arms while a trainer verbally guided him, keeping several feet away."They're very safe here, this is a private gym," he said, adding that he went to a gym in Wyoming during a visit in June and "it was a lot of 20-year-olds not wearing masks.''Fitness classes normally make up nearly half of Guanilo's income, but the city still does not allow them indoors because officials say they are too risky.While he was shut, Guanilo was able to recover some of his lost business through virtual sessions and group fitness classes in Central Park, which involved hauling hundreds of pounds of equipment on a hand truck.Guanilo's clients want him to succeed, but some are not comfortable returning. Richard Stanger, a 70-year-old business consultant, said he would not go back to Momentum Fitness until there was a reliable treatment for the virus."We all want life to return to normal, and normal to me would be working out with Marco," Stanger said. "And I'm hoping we get there, but I'm not optimistic that we can get there before the first of the year."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
NASA says the discovery could support deep-space exploration efforts. It will share the findings in a briefing on Monday and stream the audio live.
Heavily protected crews in Washington state worked Saturday to destroy the first nest of so-called murder hornets discovered in the United States. The state Agriculture Department had spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border is about the size of a basketball and contained an estimated 100 to 200 hornets, according to scientists who announced the find Friday.
Three spots on the moon are now official Washington state historic landmarks, thanks to a unanimous vote by a state commission. The thumbs-up, delivered on Friday during a virtual public hearing organized by the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, provided state landmark status to the rovers that Boeing built during the 1960s at its facilities in Kent, Wash., and that NASA sent to the moon for the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions. King County awarded similar status more than a year ago, but the state commission’s 9-0 vote — delayed for several months due to the coronavirus… Read More
GRANBY, Colo. -- "Pray for snow," is the refrain every autumn across Colorado's high country as people wait for blizzards to blanket ski slopes, recharge reservoirs and bring in the wintertime tourists.But on Friday, people were praying for the snow to save their homes. It was their only hope for relief from a spree of late-season wildfires that have choked skies with smoke and sent thousands fleeing, a grim coda to a year of relentless, record-setting wildfires.Across the West, wildfires are burning later into the fall -- and even in wintertime -- as climate change turns seasonal wildfires into a year-round menace by disrupting rainfall patterns, melting snow earlier and scorching meadows and lodgepole pine forests into tinder. The result is shaping not just the states' geography and daily life but people's psychology and basic sense of where they live."It's crazy, just crazy," said Mike Diets, who spent Friday trying to find out whether his two lakeside houses in drought-stricken Grand County were still standing. "It's hunting season. We'd usually be wading through snow this time of year."Even with a blizzard forecast to bring moisture to the Rocky Mountains by Sunday, fire crews in Northern Colorado spent another grueling day Friday battling 60 mph gusts and trying to get control of the East Troublesome fire. The 170,000-acre wildfire has destroyed an unknown number of homes as it roared through ranches, lakeside resorts and Rocky Mountain National Park this week.Across Colorado's mountain towns, people who have been choking on smoke for months and now sleep with "go bags" in their cars have been asking: When will it end?"It's like Armageddon," said Jacquelyn Evanich, who watched three huge wildfires burning this week from the office window of the motel she manages in the town of Granby, on the edge of the East Troublesome fire. "We've been around fires all year, it feels like."In a year when blazes have ravaged the West, fire season is not over, particularly in California, where 4 million acres have burned this year. Large swaths of Northern California, including the San Francisco Bay Area, are bracing for what meteorologists are describing as the most severe fire weather of the year, with gusts projected as high as 70 mph Sunday through Wednesday. Fires that ignited in those conditions in recent years have been uncontrollable.Some 5,500 firefighters are still working to contain the megafires that ignited in August and September, including the Creek fire, which started on Labor Day weekend and is still burning through the Sierra Nevada southeast of Yosemite National Park. It was 61% contained Friday and continues to produce large amounts of smoke.The state's largest electricity provider, Pacific Gas & Electric, has announced plans to turn off power to tens of thousands of households to prevent its equipment from sparking new fires. With most students in the San Francisco Bay Area studying online, schools in affected areas scrambled on Friday to develop alternative plans for households without power.In Colorado, Sheriff Brett Schroetlin of Grand County said the East Troublesome fire was changing unpredictably, hour by hour, making it difficult to tell residents whether their property had survived or was in danger.Evacuees uncertain whether they still have a home have spent days trying to glean scraps of information by listening to radio scanners, poring over satellite images and scouring Facebook pages for photos or videos of their neighborhoods.The toll came into focus Friday for one family.Relatives of Lyle and Marylin Hileman, a couple in their 80s, said they believed the Hilemans had died after taking refuge in a concrete closet in their basement as fire swept through their home near the town of Grand Lake.To the Hilemans and other residents, Grand County was a Rocky Mountain paradise, a place rooted in ranching that has seen an influx of second homeowners and wealthy vacationers who come to fly-cast and teach their children to ride horseback.The Hilemans had planned to ride out the fire in the big yellow house that they had built themselves and where their extended family always gathered. Glenn Hileman, one of their five children, said his mother called him Wednesday night to say that "the big one" was closing in and that meadows were already ablaze. But they decided to stay."There's no way they would have left," Glenn Hileman said.There were flurries of conflicting posts on neighborhood social media groups about whether the couple had made it out as the fire grew or expanded by 100,000 acres. Firefighters told the family they had tried to take a bulldozer up to the house to reach them but were blocked by fallen trees and flames. On Friday, family members said they had gotten confirmation from local authorities that the Hilemans' house had been incinerated."They've never been apart, ever," Glenn Hileman said. "I don't think either of them could've had an idea of leaving this world apart. They were going to survive it together or they were not. Either way, they were going to do it together."Schroetlin said at a briefing Friday that he could not could not confirm any deaths.A granddaughter, Stephanie Hileman, recalled her 86-year-old grandfather, a retired Denver firefighter, as a jokester who rose before dawn to plow snow or build fences on the property he loved and spent nearly 50 years cultivating. She said her 84-year-old grandmother was a "Wonder Woman" who had worked in a mental-health facility and kept an ever-growing collection of 40 candy bowls out for guests."It was heartbreaking," Stephanie Hileman said.Firefighters are in a race with nature, trying to limit the fire's spread and its toll as a wintry system is expected to move into Colorado's high country Saturday night with rain changing to heavy snow by Sunday. Sunday night's temperatures in the Grand Lake area are forecast to plunge to 7 below, and forecasters expect up to a foot of snow.Evan Direnzo, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder, where firefighters have now largely contained two fires that erupted this past weekend, said even a thick quilt of snow might not be enough to quench the fires."They can just simmer under there for a long time," he said, recalling how the Cameron Peak Fire burning north of Rocky Mountain National Park had survived an early-September blizzard. "People were going out and digging under the snow and there was fire under it. It was just chilling, waiting to come back."Jennifer Balch, a fire scientist, said it was unusual to even discuss hopes that a snowstorm would put down a forest fire. But she said the late-season fire conditions offered a clear signal of climate change that would not be going away."I don't think we have ever talked about, 'What is the amount of snow that we need to put out the fire season, to quelch the fire season,'" said Balch, director of the Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder. "We essentially have summer running into winter and we've skipped the fall."Fire ecologists and forecasters say the moisture levels in dead trees and other vegetation are at record lows while measurements that predict the speed of fires and the height of their flames are at record highs. The entire state is in a drought, and Grand County is locked in extreme or exceptional drought -- the most severe classifications."In the last 30 years, this has been the driest growing season, by far," said Klaus Wolter, a climatologist at the University of Colorado's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. He owns a home about 4 miles from where the Cal-Wood Fire erupted in Boulder County on Saturday.He said conditions are worse than in 2002, a notorious year in Colorado for wildfires when the Hayman Fire northwest of Colorado Springs scorched more than 138,000 acres and 133 homes.For years, the Hayman stood as the largest recorded wildfire in state history, but it has been overtaken by three megafires that erupted this year alone. The largest and second-largest of those -- the Cameron Peak Fire and East Troublesome Fire -- are burning 10 miles apart from each other, raising worries that they could merge.Everyone is making adjustments, some unimaginable.Kristin Hulinsky was cooking dinner for herself and her 7-year-old daughter, Brilea, at the Winding River Ranch wedding venue when the order came Wednesday evening to evacuate."It looked like the gates of hell," said Hulinsky, who served as ranch manager at the property. "I don't know how else to explain it. It was practically raining ashes. We got out before we saw any flames, we had to get out there so fast."Hulinsky and her daughter jumped in her car and sped to a family member's home to the west, in Kremling.She has now seen photos, taken by the venue's owner, confirming that all 19 structures on the property, including a lodge, nine cabins, a ranch house and five barns, are a total loss.Hulinksy has now moved down to the Front Range city of Lakewood, set up by her sister for now with a data entry job."There are no words," Hulinsky said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
The superconductor only works at pressures roughly equal to those in the Earth's core, but it shows room-temperature superconductors are possible.
The winners interviewed former astronaut Susan Helms for inspiration on how to design a better space toilet.
Hospitalizations for people infected with the new coronavirus have increased in 38 states in the last week.
The U.S. probe that collected a sample from an asteroid earlier this week retrieved so much material that a rock is wedged in the container door, allowing rocks to spill back out into space, NASA officials said on Friday. The robotic arm of the probe, OSIRIS-REx, on Tuesday night kicked up a debris cloud of rocks on Bennu, a skyscraper-sized asteroid some 200 million miles (320 million km) from Earth and trapped the material in a collection device for the return to Earth. The leakage had the OSIRIS-REx mission team scrambling to stow the collection device to prevent additional spillage."Time is of the essence," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, told reporters.
A valve on the probe's sample-collecting arm won't close, and bits of asteroid are floating away. The team hopes to store the dust in a safer place.
A NASA spacecraft is stuffed with so much asteroid rubble from this week’s grab that it’s jammed open and precious particles are drifting away in space, scientists said Friday. Scientists announced the news three days after the spacecraft named Osiris-Rex briefly touched asteroid Bennu, NASA's first attempt at such a mission. The mission’s lead scientist, Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, said Tuesday's operation 200 million miles away collected far more material than expected for return to Earth — in the hundreds of grams.
It's possible to build a roller coaster as high as the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. But it could seriously injure or kill riders.
Large wildfires may be linked to increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the San Francisco area, according to a paper in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. Researchers found that between March and September, increases in smoke particles, other wildfire pollutants and carbon monoxide levels corresponded to increases in daily COVID-19 diagnoses and total COVID-19 deaths. While correlation does not necessarily mean causality, coauthor Sultan Ayoub Meo of King Saud University in Saudi Arabia said air pollution provides a means for viruses to move around the environment.
Want to know the single best thing you can do to prevent the decline of bird populations? Keep your cat inside.
Scientists have discovered the first nest of so-called murder hornets in the United States and plan to wipe it out Saturday to protect native honeybees, officials in Washington state said. After weeks of searching, the agency said it found the nest of Asian giant hornets in Blaine, a city north of Seattle near the Canadian border. The world’s largest hornet at 2 inches (5 centimeters) long, the invasive insects can decimate entire hives of honeybees and deliver painful stings to people.
Doubling up on single-layer cloth masks may be better than one, but the safest homemade masks have three layers, including a nonabsorbent outer one.
The Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory board said the agency's rules on vaccine trials could lead to unsafe or ineffective vaccines.
On Wednesday, North Korea's state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper warned people of the "danger of invading malicious viruses" inside an approaching storm.
The Indian results, published in the BMJ British Medical Journal, found that the plasma, which delivers antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to infected people, did not help hospitalised patients fight off the infection, and failed to reduce death rates or halt progression to severe disease. The findings are a setback for a potential therapy that U.S. President Donald Trump touted in August as a "historic breakthrough", and one experts say has been used in some 100,000 patients in the United States already, despite limited evidence on its efficacy. Scientists not directly involved in the India study, which involved around 460 patients, said its results were disappointing but should not mean doctors give up hope altogether on convalescent plasma.
A new study describes the strength of diabolical ironclad beetle exoskeletons. The findings could help engineers create hardier vehicles and planes.
During a blip in time in the late Jurassic, a dinosaur that weighed no more than a chinchilla flung itself from tree to tree, spread its wings and tried to soar. In theory, it sounds beautiful -- an early attempt at flight before birds figured out the blueprint.In practice, it was chaotic.The dinosaur, Yi qi, only barely managed to glide, stretching out and shimmying its skin-flap, downy-feathered wings in a valiant attempt at flying. "It was rocketing from tree to tree, desperately trying not to slam into something," said Alex Dececchi, a paleontologist at Mount Marty University in South Dakota. "It wouldn't be something pleasant."Unsurprisingly, Yi qi is not an ancestor of modern birds. It went extinct after just a few million years, presumably doomed by its sheer lack of competency in the air. In a study published Thursday in the journal iScience, Dececchi and other researchers analyzed how Yi qi and the dinosaur Ambopteryx could have flown. Both animals were scansoriopterygids, a little-known group of small dinosaurs. The researchers did not expect the two to be great flyers, but their results painted a picture of bumbling creatures that weren't truly at home on the ground, among the trees or in the sky.Found by a farmer in northeastern China, Yi qi was first described in 2015 by paleontologists Xing Xu, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Xiaoting Zheng, of Linyi University. When Dececchi first learned about the dinosaur's bizarre anatomy, he was taken aback. "I said words that cannot be put into print," he said.In addition to the batlike wings, which had never before been observed in a dinosaur, Yi qi had an extraordinary long bone jutting out from its wrist. "Like Edward Scissorhands," said Michael Pittman, a paleontologist at the University of Hong Kong and an author on the paper.In 2018, Dececchi presented Yi qi in one of his classes as a way of teaching the scientific method: "Here's a weird creature. How do you think it would fly?" The more he thought about the question, the more he wanted to answer it.When Dececchi presented a preliminary paper on Yi qi at a conference in 2018, he saw a similar paper by Arindam Roy, a graduate student in Pittman's lab. The scientists decided to collaborate, with Pittman reconstructing the dinosaur's wing and Dececchi modeling its flight. When Ambopteryx was described in 2018, the scientists incorporated the dinosaur into the study.Pittman's lab scanned the fossil using a technique called laser-stimulated fluorescence to detect soft tissues that might have gone unnoticed when the Yi qi was first described. The laser technique revealed new soft tissues around the neck and face and provided close-up images of the membrane, which allowed Pittman to revise the model for what Yi qi's wing might have looked like.With wing models in hand, Dececchi ran the dinosaurs through a panoply of mathematical models to test its flight ability. "I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt: the biggest wings, the most muscles, the fastest flapping," he said.The creatures failed even the most generous models. Their pectoral muscles were too weak to achieve flapping flight. They could not sprint fast enough to launch themselves from the ground. They were poor turners. They could not even take off after running on an incline while furiously flapping their wings.The only scenario left was a bumbling glide wherein the dinosaurs stretched out their arms like flying squirrels and jumped from tree to tree, clattering among the branches.Xu, who led the study first describing Yi qi, said he found the new paper's analysis rigorous, although he was a bit surprised by how poorly the dinosaur seemed to fly. "I don't consider this a final word on the flight capabilities of Yi," he said, adding that the discovery of better-preserved specimens may produce different results."It's a nice exploration of an odd group," said Jingmai O'Connor, a curator of fossil reptiles at the Field Museum who also described Yi qi. "However, the authors seem to be reading too much into a handful of poorly preserved specimens." She noted that only three adult scansoriopterygid fossils are known to science.Yi qi and Ambopteryx's strategy may have worked in the short term. But as early birds took over the skies, eagle-size pterosaurs leered from above and wolf-size dinosaurs salivated from below, the scansoriopterygids tumbled into extinction.Although their failed flights offer little insight into how true birds evolved from dinosaurs, they shed light on the many ways that creatures tried to take to the skies. "The more fossils we find, the more we see how messy this evolutionary transition was," said Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved with the research.In Dececchi's eyes, the dinosaurs might have skirted doom if they had more time to evolve past the equivalent of their awkward teen years. "Then today, you might have had bats, birds and these weird and wonderful guys," he said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
While it could be an apocalyptic scene out of a movie, it has become the reality of Colorado's wildfire season. One of Colorado’s smaller fires exploded late Wednesday from 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) to 196 square miles (508 square kilometers) and closed Rocky Mountain National Park. Fire officials say it has so far burned 265 square miles (686 square kilometers).
“Many are longtime Republicans wrestling with what they see as a choice between two lousy candidates.”
“Some undecideds turn out to be people who’ve long felt alienated from the two big political parties.”
“They’re not following the 24-hour news cycle. The election and politics are just not a high priority.”
“One common trait: at this stage of the game, the undecided voter doesn’t fit into an easy political profile.”
“More realistically...these voters may not be motivated to vote at all in the 2020 election.”