Can you catch COVID-19 in a swimming pool?

Can you catch COVID-19 in a swimming pool?
COVID-19 and swimming pools. (Source: Russell Jones/WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, usually means jumping in the water for the first time all year and enjoying a long weekend with family and friends.

However, this year is different, and that has many wondering if it’s safe to celebrate together.

UAB Infectious Disease Dr. Rachael Lee says if you want to celebrate, that’s fine, but consider having an outdoor party with a limited number of guests.

“If we want to celebrate with people, that would be the number one thing to take off the list, maybe we shouldn’t have a party in our house with 50 other people,” said Lee.

“We all love barbecue on Memorial Day, and we want to be able to continue to have that connection with people, but we need to be careful of those spaces,” said Lee.

It’s not the only concern; people also want to know if COVID-19 can be transmitted through pool water.

According to UAB Dr. Ellen Eaton, years of research around pool maintenance shows that if a pool is using the proper chemicals, it’s a relatively sterile environment. Although there are some viruses and parasites that are waterborne, coronaviruses are not among them.

Eaton does caution pool-goers to worry less about coronavirus spreading through water, but rather to focus more on practicing proper physical distancing and hygiene tips near the water.

Eaton says she is not as worried about transmission of COVID-19 through a lake, or ocean water, due to the capacity and size of those bodies of water, but reinforces the practice of physical distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing a mask when not swimming.

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