CDC: Keep a social distance while you're swimming

Posted at 2:48 PM, May 29, 2020

As we enter the summer season, a reminder from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): you still need to keep a social distance. That means you should still stay 6 feet away from people, even in a swimming pool.

Many large aquatic centers around the country have decided not to reopen for the summer season. The Florence Family Aquatic Center in Kentucky posted a message on their website, letting everyone know they will not be opening this summer.

The national chain Great Wolf Lodge has closures stated on its website through June, and some locations will he closed for even longer.

The CDC's Healthy Swimming Program usually focuses on germs and injury prevention, but this year, they're fielding coronavirus questions.

“The data that we have currently available to us tell us that the virus that causes COVID-19 is not spread through water, including the water we swim in--in our pools, oceans, lakes and water playgrounds,” said Michele Hlavsa, RN, MPH, Chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program.

That same data also reminds us that the virus spreads in crowded spaces. No matter where that crowd is.

“So, if the pool is crowded or the water at the beach is crowded, then the virus can spread,” Hlavsa said.

So, the water doesn't spread the virus, but if you're less than 6 feet apart, even in the water, you could spread the virus or catch it.

“Think of a pool noodle. It’s about 5 feet. If you can touch someone with a pool noodle and you don’t live with that person, you’re too close,” Hlavsa explained.

And speaking of pool noodles, chlorine kills a lot, but you still need to pay attention to those pool toys and equipment. If it's shared, it needs to be cleaned.

“The thing to keep in mind is we have to clean before we disinfect,” Hlavsa said. “The oils from our skin, the personal care products we have on, or any other dirt or anything else could protect the virus from disinfectant, so we have to clean before we disinfect.”

As for those face coverings, CDC has specific advice. Wear it on the way to the pool, beach, river, or lake. Take it off, swim, and put it right back on as soon as you're out of the water.

"We live in a brand-new world. We’re learning a lot of new things and how to behave in a new way,” Hlavsa said. “It’s tough for parents and pool operators, and we all need to be patient and flexible with each other."