With the summer and warm weather approaching, many people are ready to pack up their beach bags and hit the pool. Beaches and lakes across the country were already flooded with people on Memorial Day weekend, even in areas where there's still a stay-at-home order (some recreational activity is allowed depending on where you live). But with the coronavirus actively spreading among the population, there's a concern busy beaches and public swimming pools could contribute to a second wave of the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the main way for the virus to spread is from an infected person to another person through respiratory droplets, which typically happens when they are within 6 feet of each other. So what does that mean for you -- can the virus survive in natural and human-made bodies of water and infect others?
Here's what we know about coronavirus and the water you swim in. This article provides an overview and isn't intended as medical advice. It updates frequently with new information drawn from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and county guidelines and experts in the medical community.
Is it safe to swim in a public pool?
While many public pools have decided to keep their door closed until further notice, others are opening this summer. The CDC says there's no evidence the coronavirus can spread to people through pool water and that proper cleaning with chlorine or bromine should inactivate the virus if it's in the water.
So why are pools remaining closed if there's no evidence of the virus spreading through the water? Because of human behavior. While the coronavirus may not spread easily through pool water, say if someone spits out a big mouthful they accidentally almost swallowed, it could still infect people in close range when heads are out of the water. For example, a group of people chatting in the shallow end, or playing a pool game may be more likely to acquire the virus from their companions' breath or saliva (e.g., through shouting to be heard at a noisy pool) than from the water itself.