Although COVID-19 restrictions are relaxing as vaccination rates increase, the Montrose Recreation District has not relaxed its vigilance in methods to increase safety. At the Montrose Community Recreation Center, the district recently installed large-scale, industrial ionizing fans.

“They basically put out electrically charged ions that attack different pathogens, include viruses and bacteria,” said John Wagner, fitness leader for Montrose Recreation District. “They pretty much neutralize those pathogens, making your breathing area that much safer.”

The fans come from the company BigAssFans, which specializes in several types of industrial fans, including those suitable for fitness centers. The business’ Clean Air System is designed to destroy pathogens.

The fan cage itself produces ions and the fan propels them throughout a given area, as Wagner described the function. The MRD used modeling information to determine where the best airflow would be at the rec center, ultimately having 11 large fans installed in some of the most heavily used areas, such as the fitness area, game room and climbing wall.

The modeling showed significant reduction in terms of novel coronavirus exposure and also almost entirely negates influenza, Wagner said. With no other precautions (masks, cleaning, social distancing) used, however, the results are not as impressive, he said, so those precautions remain necessary.

“Even just for the yearly flu, it will be safer. It also helps keep surfaces cleaner. Even just from a cleanliness perspective, there will be less transmission of bacteria from surfaces that people touch,” Wagner said.

“It’s another way we’re trying to be safe throughout this pandemic so people can continue to work out safely,” Debby Harrison Zarkis, administration operations assistant, said.

The rec center has been seeing good use during the pandemic, with most of the facility open in at least some capacity, although fitness classes, lap pool, water fitness, family open swim and pickleball still require reservations. Amenities such as party rentals, Child Watch and the indoor playground remain closed.

“I think, especially with more and more doses of the vaccine in Montrose, we’ve seen a big uptick in (attendance) lately,” Wagner said. “A lot of people we haven’t seen in almost a year now have started coming back in as well. It’s nice to see those faces again — at least the parts of faces you can see with the masks on.”

The industrial fans play a big part in the continued reopening of the center. “The pandemic definitely heightened people’s sensitivity to germs in general. This will help keep those mitigated throughout the year,” Wagner said.

The rec center is open Monday — Friday, from 5:30 a.m. — 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the fitness/gym areas are open from 11 a.m. — 4 p.m. and pool/aquatics are open from noon — 4 p.m. Sunday hours are noon — 4 p.m.

The rec district also accepts registration for free, mobile COVID-19 testing, through MAKO Medical. Testing is done each Thursday from 9 a.m. — 4 p.m. at the Montrose Recreation Field House, 25 Colorado Ave. Visit the above website for a link to the registration form.

The MRD is also seeking a new board member for a vacant seat. Applicants must be either a resident of the district or owner of taxable real or personal property within the district, as well as be registered to vote in Colorado.

Prospective appointees must self-nominate by filing a letter of interest explaining why they would like to serve and what they can offer the district. Applications are due by 5 p.m. April 9. The appointment will be made by the current board at its regular April 22 meeting.

For information or to submit materials, contact Executive Director Mari Steinbach at [email protected] or call 970-497-8569.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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