May 28, 2020
Hot weather is here—and with it, the promise of a refreshing dip at nearby pools, beaches, hot tubs, and water parks. But before you catch a wave, or make a splashdown, you might want to check on whether “freestyle” water sports will be safe this season, The Huffington Post reports.
But there is some good news at the start of the season: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no evidence has emerged to suggest that you can contract the coronavirus from the water, itself.
“There is no data that somebody got infected this way [with coronavirus],” Professor Karin B. Michels, chair of UCLA’s Department of Epidemiology, stated in a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times.
“I can’t say it’s absolutely 100% zero risk, but I can tell you that it would never cross my mind to get COVID-19 from a swimming pool or the ocean,” agreed Paula Cannon, a professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “It’s just extraordinarily unlikely that this would happen.”
That said, the HuffPost notes, some safety measures and health warnings should still be kept in mind before you take a dip. Here’s what you should know:
The CDC states that hotter temperatures—those above 75 degrees—do not kill the virus. The disease can also still spread in warmer, humid climates. So don’t use sunbathing at the pool or the beach as an excuse to not practice healthy habits or follow pandemic guidelines.
Being outside and in the water is not completely risk-free, although it is better than staying in a more confined space. The CDC advises that you should avoid “group events, gatherings, or meetings both in and out of the water if social distancing of at least six feet between people who don’t live together cannot be maintained.”
Exceptions to this rule only include emergency evacuations and cases where someone is rescuing a distressed swimmer; or providing medical help or first aid, the HuffPost reports.
What’s more, all high-touch surfaces—such as handrails and chairs—should be regularly disinfected. If you’re swimming in your own pool or a family pool, you should make sure to wipe those areas down regularly.
Proper water maintenance also is important. The regular amount of chlorine used to treat pools should be enough to inactivate the virus, The Los Angeles Times reported.
There’s a chance that the virus can be spread when an infected person—even those who are asymptomatic―expels respiratory droplets onto surfaces and then someone else touches the same surface. (Although how easily the virus can spread when touching surfaces has been called into question recently, it’s better to assume right now that you could be susceptible to transmission in such a manner.)
It’s best to limit contact where possible, which means you should absolutely not share items like floats, masks, googles, snorkeling equipment (even with people who are in your own house). Bring or use your own, and be sure to disinfect them regularly.
Pool operators and people who will be in close proximity to others outside of the water are encouraged to wear a mask, according to the CDC. Take it off once you get in the water—swimming with such a face covering can make it difficult to breathe.
With those safeguards, for now, you can dive on in. The water’s fine.
Research contact: @HuffPostLife