As summer starts and temperatures rise nationwide, those hoping return to typical summer activities and festivities are left asking, “Can coronavirus spread through water in pools and lakes?”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s no evidence that the coronavirus spreads through water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or other water play areas. The CDC said that if properly maintained with disinfectants like bromine and chlorine, the virus should be inactivated in the water of recreational facilities.
But there are still some things you should know to protect yourself.
Community Pools & Shared Facilities
Shared spaces like community pools have other factors to consider, like lockers, patio furniture, and showers.
“The bigger issue is that you have to change in the shared locker rooms, and people are often touching the mouth, nose and face and then maybe touching the lockers,” Dr. Michael Ison, an infectious disease physician at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, told TODAY.
As for getting in and out of the pool, people rely on ladders, railing, and pool edges. These surfaces can also host viruses as people come into contact with them.
The reopening of community pools and aquatic play areas will rely on local guidelines, just like the reopening of beaches.
Beaches, Lakes & Coronavirus
The reopening of beaches nationwide sparked plenty of media coverage as footage showed crowded beaches lacking proper social distancing.
Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology and immunology at The University of Arizona told TODAY that human pathogenic viruses have a shorter survival time in saltwater versus freshwater. He expects the same for coronaviruses.
“Swimming in surface waters that are not disinfected could be an issue if the face is submerged — people with the virus may release [it] into the water. Probably a good idea to keep social distancing when swimming in non-disinfected surface waters,” Gerba noted.
Others think that the amount of H2O in large bodies of water means there’s little risk, especially when taking the flow of water and dilution into account. While there’s a lack of evidence in coronavirus being spread through water, experts advise people to properly maintain social distancing when returning to recreational water areas.
“Individuals should continue to protect themselves and others at recreational water venues both in and out of the water – for example, by practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene,” said the CDC.