The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many industries to shift to a “working-from-home economy.” Approximately 42% of the U.S. labor force now works from home full-time. With the long hours we spend working, it’s hard to allot time for other activities like exercise. Swimming is the 4th most preferred sports activity in the United States. Some establishments, including swimming pool, are already opening up after the lockdown. You may ask, “Is it already safe to swim at this point in time?” Read on to know what experts have to say about the topic.
Can the coronavirus be transmitted in a swimming pool?
Experts say that the danger of COVID-19 is not in the water. Virologist Angela Rasmussen from Columbia University said that there may be a theoretical possibility to get infected. However, the chances are so negligible it may be effectively zero.
The chief of infectious diseases from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Ebb Lautenbach explained its transmission. It is not passed through a waterborne route. The chlorine and bromine added in pools inactivate the virus.
Roberta Lavin from the University of Tennessee gives guidance to help us stay safe. Lavin clarified that COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. It is spread through small droplets of spit and mucus expelled when a person coughs or sneezes.
Joseph Eisenberg from the University of Michigan also explained that respiratory pathogens don’t thrive in the water. Since it is a respiratory virus, you need to inhale it, not swallow it.
Touching surfaces puts you at risk.
Lavin also says that swimming is safer than other activities. However, most pools are located inside gym facilities or a public space. There is a possibility of getting infected even before you reach the treated water.
Lavin further explains that one must assume everyone is infected. Any object they touch will be contaminated. It is difficult to get in and out of the swimming pool without touching anything.
Think about it: you touch different surfaces on a usual visit to and from the pool. You grab the door handle. You get changed and put your clothes on a bench or inside the locker. You touch a communal shower tap. Off the restroom you go, which leads to another series of doors and surfaces. These are all spots that the virus can cling to and follow you home.
Disinfecting the swimming pool
The World Health Organization recommends a chlorination level of 15mg.min/L to kill non-enveloped viruses. An enveloped virus like COVID-19 can be inactivated at lower concentrations.
CDC: no risk for COVID-19 in recreational waters
Public aquatic venues are now open in some areas. CDC does not have any scientific reports of the virus spreading through pools, water playgrounds, or hot tubs.
They also confirm that proper operation of the facilities and water disinfection can inactivate the virus. They emphasized that visitors and staff still need to take precautionary measures:
- Stay at home if you suspect that you’re infected or confirmed to be infected with the COVID-19 virus.
- Maintain at least 6 feet distance (in and out of the water) from people you don’t know.
- Use cloth masks out of the water. Don’t wear them in the pool. It is hard to breathe through the mask if it is wet.
- Clean your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water. Use 60% alcohol if soap and water are not accessible.
Are saltwater pools also safe?
CDC also does not have scientific reports on the spread of the virus in saltwater pools. Table salt (composed of sodium and chloride) is added to the water. An electrical current also runs through the water with dissolved salt. This method provides the same disinfecting action of chlorine when used in traditional pools.
Is it more preferable to swim in open water?
It is usually said that the answer to pollution is dilution. This may be true also for COVID-19. The amount of dilution and flow of water in a big body diminishes the risk of the virus. The main concern in this scenario is swimming alone.
Social distancing in swimming pools
The CDC gave recommendations for operators of hot tubs, water playgrounds, and public pools:
- Follow the state, local, territorial, tribal, and federal regulatory agency policies on gathering. The number of people in the water should not exceed the maximum allowed number.
- Instruct and reinforce physical distancing among staff and visitors.
It is important to control the number of people in the water. This is to make sure that social distancing is maintained should the need to evacuate arise.
Feel safe in your pool during the pandemic with Cherry Pool Services.
Can’t wait to get back to your swimming pool in San Diego? Experts believe there is no danger in the waters during the pandemic. However, it doesn’t hurt to take precautionary measures.
Cherry Pool Services provides maintenance service packages to keep you and your family safe. We do comprehensive swimming pool cleaning, routine general inspection, and in-depth chemistry testing. Call us today!