Memorial Day

What Are the Risks With Swimming Pools During a Pandemic?

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Memorial Day weekend won't be the typical pool experience for many of us with several cities keeping municipal pools closed.

There's concern about health and safety in pools that will open, and whether that dip in the community pool is safe.

Local health experts said, bottom line, social distancing is still going to be important this Memorial Day weekend. 

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Whenever we talk about hitting the pool, it's really not just about swimming. It's about getting together with family and friends.

But at a community pool, there are also likely people you may not know.

Dr. Diana Cervantes, an infectious disease epidemiologist and UNT Health Science Center assistant professor of epidemiology, said anytime you have large groups of people there's an additional increased risk for transmission of COVID-19.

But what about while you're in the pool with other people. Is the water itself safe?

"The water doesn't pose a big threat as far as the ability of the virus to survive in the water. So in a regularly maintained pool or hot tub, because of the chemicals and the maintenance, and of course just thinking of the delusion factor alone. It's not likely that the coronavirus will survive and be able to thrive in order to promote transmission," said Cervantes. “When you go outdoors, the risk is lower, because you’re out there and you’ve got good airflow. Of course with our heat and humidity that we have here in Texas, the virus does tend to be less stable.”

Dr. Neal Chumbler, Dean of the College of Health and Public Service at the University of North Texas agrees, and said he's more concerned about key links like changing rooms and the surfaces of furniture around the pool.

Also, keeping a safe distance between swimmers.

"The key will be the extent to which the staff at a swimming pool can keep the numbers low, because you know, we've all been at swimming pools when it's nice and hot and everybody wants to be in the swimming pool, so assuming you keep the numbers low in the pool, and keep people at a distance, it should be fine," said Chumbler.

But, all public pools and water parks won't open this weekend. A spokesperson with the city of Fort Worth said the challenges the city faces in reopening pools include: hiring and training staff, ensuring social distancing for staff and guests and providing adequate safety measures.

We're told the pools will not open until the city's aquatics department is able to overcome those challenges.

So, before you head to your favorite neighborhood pool this Memorial Day weekend, check to make sure they're open, and then make sure you know what restrictions are in place.

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