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Our neighborhood pool plans to reopen in a couple of weeks when our state eases lockdowns. Is the pool a risky place for COVID-19 transmission?

Families Infection and Spread Reopening Staying Safe

A: You’re unlikely to get COVID-19 *from* the pool, but you could certainly be exposed *at* the pool.

To clarify: Pool water is heavily chlorinated, and COVID-19 is not waterborne in any case. So, being immersed in the pool or otherwise exposed to pool water is not risky in and of itself.

The problem, of course, is all those other folks who want to enjoy the pool, too. Close, sustained contact with others during physical exertion (splashing, swimming) and other activities that cause heavy exhalations (“Marco!” “Polo!”) is conducive to COVID-19 transmission.

While It’s helpful that most pools are outdoors (where transmission risk is reduced compared to indoor settings), it doesn’t guarantee no transmission. Indeed, we just learned as we were drafting this post about a high school swim party in Arkansas that led to multiple COVID-19 infections. Details about the event have not been released, but Arkansas Governor Hutchinson noted of the teens, “they’re just having activity and positive cases results from that.”

The likelihood of neighborhood pools and swim clubs opening this summer varies a lot across the country. Some cities, counties, and park districts have already decided that they will not open this summer. Some are planning to reopen if they can accommodate CDC and local guidance; others opened on schedule this weekend.

How to make summer pool visits more safe? The staff at your pool is likely already planning for and implementing measures to limit attendance at the pool, enforce distancing both in the pool and in the surrounding areas, and maintain strict hygiene. Recent guidance from the CDC recommends additional staff to monitor and enforce distancing and attendance limits, so that lifeguards can focus on swimmer safety.

You can help by making sure you and your kids follow all rules about masking (yes, you’re likely to be asked to mask), opening and closing times, distancing, and locker room protocols. If you’re confused about the rules, or concerned about transmission, speak up.

You can help by making sure you and your kids follow all rules about masking (yes, you’re likely to be asked to mask), opening and closing times, distancing, and locker room protocols. If you’re confused about the rules, or concerned about transmission, speak up.

The Atlantic article

USA Today article

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