The Summer months are just around the corner, and with community pools across the country opening for the season in the coming weeks, we have just one question: Can coronavirus spread in pools?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that the novel coronavirus, which has infected over three million people worldwide, can be spread through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or aquatic play areas.
Due to the nature of swimming pool maintenance, experts believe that proper disinfection with chlorine and bromine “should inactivate the virus in the water,” the CDC said.
So the bigger concern isn’t a matter of whether coronavirus can be spread in pools, but rather, being around other people using the pool and its amenities.
“You have to change in the shared locker rooms, and people are often touching the mouth, nose and face and then maybe touching the lockers,” Dr. Michael Ison, an infectious disease physician at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago told TODAY.
Besides the actual water, everything at the community pool is still a breeding ground for the virus. Between the ladders and railings used to get in and out of the pool, to the chairs you sit on and door handles you touch to enter, the threat is still present.
“You have to assume that people are infected,” says Dr. Roberta Lavin, a professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee’s College of Nursing. “Anything they touch would be contaminated. It would be hard to get in and out of the pool without touching anything or interacting with another person.”
Experts suggest washing your hands before and after using the pool, and continuing to comply with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines.
Of course, many health clubs and public pools may not be opening anytime soon anyway due to local guidelines which vary from state to state.
Which leads to a different question: how about the beach?
“Because of the flow of the water and the amount of dilution in a larger body of water such as a lake or river, the virus would not be a concern,” Lavin says. “The bigger concern there is that you shouldn’t be swimming in a lake or river by yourself. And, of course, with social distancing, the goal is to keep people 6 or more feet away from each other.”
That can be difficult, as swimming at the beach tends to be a much more social affair than it does, exercise and sport. Experts fear that people socializing on beaches or other large bodies of water will forgo social distancing measures and ease up on personal protective gear.
So while there’s no evidence linking any cases of COVID-19 to pools, it’s important to continue practicing pandemic safety measures, as the Summer months take on a “new normal.”