BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With summer right around the corner, concerned parents and swimmers are asking what COVID-19 means for water-based activities. So, can COVID-19 be transmitted through pool water?
According to Dr. Ellen Eaton at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Infectious Diseases, there is a very low chance of getting coronavirus through the water if the pool is maintained with proper chemicals.
“If a pool is maintained with chlorine or bromine and managed, there is a very low chance of getting coronavirus through the water,” said Dr. Eaton. “Years of research around pool maintenance ensures that, if a pool is using the chemicals per standard guidelines, it’s a relatively sterile environment. Although there are some viruses and parasites that are waterborne, coronaviruses are not among them.”
According to Eaton, pool-goers should focus more on practicing proper physical distancing and hygiene tips when around the water.
Dr. Eaton encourages pool visitors to go at off-hours such as when the pool opens or toward the end of the day. She says to avoid crowds, if possible.
“I know that my children want nothing more than to cool off in the pool during the heat of the day; but realistically, that is the most crowded time to visit the pool,” Eaton said. “If we can visit during less popular days or hours, I think that will be the best way for us to continue to enjoy fun family time together while also being responsible and mindful of minimizing any spread of the virus.”
Eaton also says to avoid touching items and surfaces that do not belong to you. Whether that is using the restroom or sanitizing the pool chair. She cautions against sharing sunscreen and pool toys.
Eaton says that while some families will visit a community pool, others will be visiting the lake or beach. Eaton says she is not as worried about transmission of COVID-19 through either of those types of water — primarily due to the capacity and size of the water body.
“At the end of the day, it’s important to still make memories and enjoy time with our families this summer. We can still accomplish that, but just in a way that keeps the health and safety of ourselves and others top of mind.”