ATLANTA — With summer around the corner, school nearly finished, and temperatures heating up, many are asking if COVID-19 can spread in places like swimming pools, hot tubs or water park features.
While many county and city pools remain closed for the time being, Gov. Brian Kemp did say they can reopen under certain guidelines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas.”
The CDC said proper operation and maintenance, such as disinfection with chlorine and bromine, “should inactivate the virus in the water.”
Dr. Payal Kohli, a medical expert in Colorado, explained that chlorine isn't a magic cleaner. Its effectiveness against a virus like COVID-19 depends on other circumstances.
"There have been studies looking at whether or not chlorine and bromine, which are usually the two chemicals put in pool water, inactivate the virus. And the good news is, that they do, in fact, inactivate the virus in laboratory settings in the doses that are usually put in pool water," said Kohli.
Dr. David Caro, the Disaster Medical Officer for UF Health Jacksonville, said look to see if people are practicing social distancing in the water.
“If the pool is properly chlorinated or brominated then there should be no risk for COVID transmission from the pool itself,” Dr. Caro explained. “The danger really would be the social distancing and how close we're going to get to folks that aren't within our family and aren't within our own contacts. That's how things might get transmitted at a pool.”
As for when you’re lounging by the pool, Dr. Caro says if someone is sneezing or coughing those droplets can get on furniture.
“Cleaning those as you're sitting down and making sure that you're washing your hands very well and making sure that your family is doing the same things that you typically would do at any other public site would be a good idea,” Dr. Caro said.
The CDC recommends not sharing goggles, nose clips, and snorkels which can be hard to clean. They also urge all swimmers to protect themselves from others at the pool by maintaining physical distances — at least six feet apart — and hand washing after coming in contact with high-touch areas.
It's advised that you bring your own disinfectant wipes to clean off public pool chairs before your family uses them.
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