Philadelphia Fitness Coalition Forms to Protest Shutdown Without Aid


The group, made up of 30-plus fitness studios and gyms in the region, is petitioning the city to change its latest coronavirus restrictions.

Philadelphia Fitness coalition logo

The Philadelphia Fitness Coalition has launched to protest the recent city shutdown with a petition and a workout outside City Hall. | Photograph courtesy of Philadelphia Fitness Coalition

Last week, the City of Philadelphia launched new “Safer At Home” restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus amid rising cases that have led to a current high risk of community transmission. The new rules put many local gym and studio owners, who have received limited government aid, in a position of facing down mounting bills and further reduced revenue over the holidays. Without action from officials, it may be impossible for Philly’s gyms to keep their doors open through the winter.

Many small gym and studio owners have made dramatic changes to their business models in order to keep patrons and members as safe as possible during the COVID-19 crisis. Some, however, have flouted the safety restrictions, hurting the case of the fitness centers who were complying with the previous rules. Despite best efforts by some, it’s hard to know where cases are being contracted and spread, which is why many small businesses are looking for a government lifeline to get them through the winter while they keep their doors shut.

Others want to stay open and be declared essential businesses, in addition to calling for increased grants from the state and federal government. On Sunday, November 23rd, a group called the Philadelphia Fitness Coalition, comprised of 30-plus local gyms and fitness studios, launched with an appeal to officials regarding the recent shutdown. The coalition was spearheaded by Gavin McKay, founder of Unite Fitness, with leadership partnership from Osayi Osunde, founder of Fit Academy; Shoshana Katz, founder of BPM Fitness; and Stephanie Luongo, founder of Sculpt 360, among others. The group has started a petition (a previous petition from a different source already exists) under the heading “Reopen Fitness Providers As Essential Health Services and Provide Funding To Sustain Them.”

In the petition they explain that the gyms and studios in their coalition have collected data on over 260,000-plus indoor visits from July to November 2020, and that “only 30 reported cases walked into our locations,” citing a “0% transmission rate traced from person to person” among reported, known cases. It’s important to note that this claim derives from self-reported and self-collected data from the gyms. And, unfortunately in a city and state where contact tracing has been conducted poorly or not at all (and where citizens are not complying with tracing), it’s impossible to know the reality of where cases are originating and spreading.

Nonetheless, McKay argues that in small studios particularly “the communities are tight” — that people know one another and communicate if there’s been potential exposure. “We’ve been put in the wrong

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Additional allegations of malpractice against dentist Gaum surface at protest | Local | News

One of the dozen-plus people who attended the Broken Trust protest Saturday morning said Errol Gaum’s pediactric dental clinic sounded more like a “torture chamber.” 

“During my training, I was told if we heard screams in the reception area, we were to turn up the volume on the TV (or radio) so it would block the screaming from the parents,” said Kathy, who didn’t want her surname used.

She worked at the dental office on the Bedford Highway for only 10 days in the mid-2000s but it was long enough for her to surmise the children were not receiving proper care at the clinic.

“A parent asked me if I could check on their child,” Kathy said. “I walked past the reception desk, went down to check on the child. I was instructed when the dentist opened the door to never return to that room again.

“I was in shock. I used to work as a registered dental assistant. That’s not how dentistry should be for children, it’s all about comforting children. That sounded like a torture chamber.”

Horror stories from Gaum’s longtime pediatric dental career surfaced recently on the Victims of Errol Gaum Facebook group and in the mainstream media, prompting the Broken Trust protest in front of his Bedford Highway office.

Scott Wolfe, 39, told The Chronicle Herald earlier that when saw the photo of Gaum, his dentist from 30 years ago, circulating on social media that it sent chills down his spine.

Gaum was Wolfe’s dentist for three years and he said every visit was filled with pain. Wolfe remembers being pinned down by the dentist and his assistant as he sat in the chair. He recalls having allergies as a little boy and being threatened for breathing through his mouth, instead of his stuffed-up nose. 

“They’d become incredibly rude and very disrespectful,” he said. “(They) told me that I’d be in a lot of trouble if I didn’t start breathing through my nose because I was steaming up their dental mirror.”

Wolfe would beg his mom every time not to go to the dentist.

Gaum’s licence was suspended earlier this week by the provincial dental board after an emergency meeting was called Wednesday night to discuss numerous complaints against him.

“I’m very happy that the dental board is actually listening to us and suspending his licence even though it should have been suspended long ago,” Ryan Binder told the Cape Breton Post.

Binder, a Cape Bretoner who believes Gaum hurt his six-year-old daughter, said the suspension is only the start and the group won’t stop until the dentist’s licence is revoked and his actions are criminally investigated.

A Halifax Regional Police spokesman confirmed that they are investigating “numerous reports that a man who was working as a dentist assaulted patients at numerous locations over a period of time from the 1970s to this year.”

Kathy said HRP has asked to speak with her.

Binder filed his complaint with the dental board last week after his daughter’s

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Dentist’s Virus Suit Returned To State Court Despite Protest

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Law360 (November 9, 2020, 4:50 PM EST) —
A Texas federal judge on Monday sent a dentist’s COVID-19 coverage suit back to state court in a final ruling and closed the case despite protests by Allstate Insurance Co., saying a magistrate judge’s earlier recommendation held up after a period of court review.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery adopted U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard B. Farrer’s October recommendation to return the case to state court, terminating the suit in federal court and holding that no parties could show the report was “erroneous or contrary to law.”

“We believe the court followed the law, and we are happy with the remand order,” said Shannon Loyd, an attorney representing the dentist. “In Texas, adjusters have liability under the Insurance Code if they fail to conduct a reasonable investigation — which is for a jury to decide.”

In October, Judge Farrer said the case should be remanded back to state court, holding that Allstate failed to show a claims adjuster was wrongly joined and that the suit did not meet the diversity of jurisdiction required in federal court.

Judge Farrer said Orsatti DDS PC, a dental office in Bexar County, Texas, has sufficiently alleged the adjuster failed to conduct a proper investigation of its claim.

Allstate fired back at the magistrate’s judge’s recommendation in late October, saying there was nothing for the claim adjuster to investigate since the dental office did not experience any property damage covered in the policy.

The carrier contended that though the dental office accused adjuster Blessing Sefofo Wonyaku of inadequate claim investigation, there was “no physical evidence” for Wonyaku to consider because Orsatti did not allege COVID-19 was present on its property for the adjuster to inspect.

Allstate claimed the dental practice was trying to increase the complexity of the case by wrongly including Wonyaku, a Texas citizen, to destroy complete diversity of citizenship for the case to stay in federal court.

Last week, in response to the insurer’s October objection against sending the case back to state court, the dental office said the claim adjuster was not wrongly joined and that it “clearly has stated numerous plausible claims for relief against” him.

Orsatti suspended business because of the government pandemic closure orders in March. The office said it lost income and filed a coverage claim with Allstate. The Illinois-based carrier then assigned commercial property adjuster Wonyaku to investigate the claim. Orsatti said the adjuster never asked for any documents or information related to its claim.

Allstate subsequently denied coverage, asserting a virus exclusion and a lack of physical damage to Orsatti’s property. In

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