Raleigh cheerleading gym closed after cluster of coronavirus cases
Posted October 22, 2020 5:13 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2020 9:01 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Cheer Extreme in south Raleigh will be closed through Nov. 1 after nine people connected with the acrobatics program tested positive for coronavirus in a single week.
Kelly Helton, owner and operator of the gymnasium, said three coaches and six athletes tested positive in the past week, but none of them is seriously ill. Prior to that, only seven cases were connected to the gym since it reopened in late May, she said.
"We get the gym disinfected weekly from a professional company. We’ve literally been doing everything there is you can do,” she said.
Despite precautions at workouts – temperature checks, masks required and regular application of sanitizer – Helton was not surprised to see the cases pop up.
"I can do everything I can do to try and control what’s going on inside the gym, but once things start to reopen like schools have reopened for some of my kids, their parents allow them to go see their friends. We can not live in fear either,” she said.
The change in habits and the flu season on the way will require more diligence to keep her athletes active, Helton said.
“It’s a competitive sport. You can’t really go months at a time without doing it and then expect to be at the same level you were when you come back,” she said.
Helton said Cheer Extreme represents more than simply physical activity for participants, and families understand the risk. The gym has posted detailed COVID protocols online, including how they handle notification when someone does test positive.
“They have all made the decision. They know the risk associated with being in larger groups, and they are OK with it because cheer means a lot to these kids," she said.
She has notified anyone who was in close contact with any of the people who have tested positive. So far, the worst symptoms have been headaches and loss of taste and smell, she said.