As the temperatures continue to soar, people are looking to escape the summer heat bound to touch 100 °F soon. Visiting public pools or beaches this summer are the ideal spots to cool off, but with a global pandemic wreaking havoc, is it safe to go to a public pool or a beach? There is concern among the people that busy public swimming pools and beaches might play a part in triggering the second wave of COVID-19.
According to the information provided by the CDC, the primary mode for viral transmission from an infected individual to another is via respiratory droplets. The risk of catching these viral drops is high when you are within six feet of the other person. This prompts the question; could the COVID-19 virus survive and be transmitted to others in bodies of water, like swimming pools and beaches?
In this blog, we will highlight the CDC’s safety recommendations for the folks planning to visit these places.
Are Public Pools Safe for Swimming?
Although a number of public swimming pools have opted to remain closed for the general populace, some of them are resuming their operations. According to the CDC, there is no evidence suggesting that the covid-19 virus could spread through pool water. Properly cleaning and treating the water with bromine or chlorine should inactivate the viral pathogens, even if they are present in the water.
Yet, despite this fact, human behavior could undoubtedly contribute to spreading the virus around swimming pools. If an infected individual swallows and spits pool water, it could transmit the infection to the nearby people. While the water itself might be safe, the presence of humans chatting and talking, so close to each other, pose a significant threat to their safety. People are more likely to get the infection from saliva and breath of others than from the pool water itself.
Additionally, public swimming pools have high traffic surfaces and areas of contact, such as doors, railings on the steps, benches, etc. The idea behind social distancing is to keep people apart at a safe distance from strangers, as you never know who is infected. Areas like bathroom stalls, lunch lines, sitting spots, and others where people come in close vicinity to each other, increase the risk of infection.
Are the Beaches Safe to Visit?
Most states and counties have eased lockdown restrictions for the general populace, and that includes public spaces like beaches. Make sure that you check your local or state limitations before heading out to the beach. For instance, currently, in California, beaches in 11 counties are open with some restrictions, while in four counties, beaches are generally open. The restrictions include physical distancing, specific stay timings, no crowding or large groups, etc. If you live in one of the areas where the beaches are open and plan on visiting, it is recommended that gathering should be limited to the members of your house. Experts suggest that water is safe for swimming, as long as there is an adequate distance from others.
What if an Infected Person is Present in the Water?
Although some reports imply that water does not transmit the COVID-19 pathogens, as it would dilute the secretions, it is better to keep your distance from others. You are still at risk of catching the infection from an asymptomatic individual, even if they do not show any signs of the disease.
Would Wearing a Mask Help?
As CDC has recommended, you should wear a mask or face covering when it is difficult to maintain an appropriate distance. If you are at a public swimming pool or a beach, you should put on a mask when you are walking past other people or are near them.
In some areas, the administration requires people to wear masks at the beach when outside the water. However, the CDC has also advised that you should not wear a face mask if you are in the water, as it will make it difficult for you to breathe if the mask gets wet.
Staying Safe at Public Pools and Beaches
It is our duty, not only to keep ourselves safe but also to protect others. It can be accomplished by abiding by the following guidelines:
- Bring and use your own towel and lounge chair.
- Make sure that your kids don’t share pool toys with other kids.
- Avoid sharing drinks with your friends.
- Wash or sanitize your hands properly when you touch high-contact or shared surfaces.
- Maintain the proper 6-foot distance from people outside your household.
While the government is working towards lessening the restrictions in many areas, it is crucial that you keep yourself updated with the CDC’s latest recommendations. It will ensure your safety as well as the well being of your loved ones.