Can You Get Coronavirus From a Pool? Experts Weigh In
Here's what the CDC and medical experts say about swimming in a pool amid the coronavirus pandemic.
With summer right around the corner, people are eager to enjoy the warmer weather and that includes some classic outdoor activities. And what's the one thing we all love to do most on a hot summer day? Take a dip in the pool, of course. Public pools are already allowed to reopen in states like Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina, but here's what you need to know before you dive in head first. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), technically, yes, it's safe to swim during the coronavirus pandemic. "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 experts note. However, this statement comes with a couple of caveats: the cleanliness of the pool and the hygiene of the people swimming in it.
The CDC says whether the coronavirus can travel through a pool is reliant on the "proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of facilities" to inactivate the virus in the water. Of course, the sanitation of the water is easy to monitor if the pool is in your backyard—however, it may be risky to put your trust in a community pool or a friend's pool.
When it comes to using pools that are not your own, the CDC says "everyone should follow local and state guidance that may determine when and how recreational water facilities may operate. Individuals should continue to protect themselves and others at recreational water venues both in and out of the water."
What does that mean exactly? Well, health and wellness expert Rashmi Byakodi, BDS, editor of Best for Nutrition, says, "To use swimming pools, people should follow social distancing and good hand hygiene," just as they do outside of the pool.
"You have to assume that people [at the pool] are infected," Roberta Lavin, a professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee's College of Nursing, told U.S. Masters Swimming. "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."
In larger cities that have seen the highest numbers of coronavirus cases, citizens are looking at a summer sans public swimming pools entirely. For example, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's five-phase plan to reopen the state mentions health clubs and outdoor activities, but there is currently no specific guidance available for opening pools. The University of Chicago's chief epidemiologist Emily Landon, MD, told The Chicago Tribune, "I suspect that pools are going to be one of the last places that are going to be allowed to be open." She did, however, add that pool disinfection is "meant to kill a lot of things that are significantly hardier, in the microbiologic world, than coronavirus." And for the summer activities you can safely do, check out 19 Summer Hobbies You Can Still Do During Quarantine.