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‘A million different Pac-Men flying through the air gobbling up pathogens,’ The Alaska Club relying on emerging tech to fight COVID-19

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 9:22 AM AKST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2021 at 10:01 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For a lot of people the gym is more than just a place you work out. “I mean it’s like the most positive place you can go, it’s just the best part of the day,” says Alaska Club Member Matt Gernart.

With that being the case the disruption caused last year when the COVID-19 pandemic struck caught most people off guard.

“When I think back on it now it was surreal,” says Robert Brewster, CEO of the Alaska Club.

Businesses took this hit especially hard, not only dealing with lost revenue and concerned employees but with how they would proceed as well.

“We also had to be thinking about how we were going to provide a safe environment in a somewhat unknown set of circumstances,” says Brewster.

As things began to open back up using hand sanitizer, wearing masks, cleaning more often, those were obvious operating procedures that could be implemented, The Alaska Club wanted to do more.

“That really included a significant amount of capital improvements to the facility,” claims Brewster.

Upgrades for touch-less entry, commercial-grade HEPA filters, electrostatic sprayers and foggers, a well as something a little more outside the box.

“The installation of ActivePure throughout our facilities and that’s a full envelope sanitizing system,” explains Brewster.

Most people don’t encounter the term “full envelope sanitizing system” on a daily basis so to get a better idea of what the ActivePure system does, we reached out to the companies CEO Joe Urso.

“It’s kind of hard to visualize but imagine that you have a million different Pac-Men flying through the air gobbling up pathogens safely while you’re in the room,” says Urso.

The forebearer of this timely technology was created by NASA back in the 1990′s, according to Joe Urso. It’s cleared by the FDA and is currently being used in a double-blind study at the Cleveland Clinic to help Reduce hospital infection rates.

While The Alaska Club uses this system in its many facilities around the state it’s not gym specific. Urso says it can be used in everything from schools to office buildings, even homes.

“On average it cost about a dollar a foot to put the technology into a location,” says Urso.

As for its efficacy, there are a number of charts, graphs, and explanations as to why and how ActivePure works on the companies website. If all the posted data is correct it kills a significant amount of a number of different pathogens.

Brewster seems to believe that it’s a product that has been worth the expense for his clubs, though it is difficult to parse out how effective ActivePure has been on its own given all the other precautions that are also being taken.

“Well there’s not a perfect way to do that but we know that we’ve had over 800,000 visits to the facilities since we’ve reopened and that the pandemic has been underway and that we’ve had zero reported cases of Covid among our membership or among our employees that seem to have been transferred here at the club,” says Brewster.

Though the usage rate of The Alaska Club has not yet returned to pre-pandemic numbers, according to Brewster, the gap has started to shrink and the club’s CEO does see positive signs. Increased vaccinations, decreasing infection rates, and the efforts of his club give Brewster hope that soon, even more members, will make their way back through the front door.

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