What health officials are saying on coronavirus, swimming pools

Social distancing in and out of the water is likely going to be the only way community pools can safely reopen this summer.

COLORADO, USA — Memorial Day is upon us, which means the unofficial start of summer.

Many are asking if COVID-19 can spread in places like swimming pools, hot tubs or water park features.

Water World and Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, as well as community swimming pools, remain closed while they wait for further guidance from local officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, “There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas.”

The CDC said proper operation and maintenance, such as disinfection with chlorine and bromine, “should inactivate the virus in the water.”

9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli explained that chlorine isn’t a magic cleaner. Its effectiveness against a virus like COVID-19 depends on other circumstances.

“There have been studies looking at whether or not chlorine and bromine, which are usually the two chemicals put in pool water, inactivate the virus. And the good news is, that they do, in fact, inactivate the virus in laboratory settings in the doses that are usually put in pool water,” said Kohli.

“However, the word of caution that I really want to give to people is that, if somebody’s in the pool and they’re wearing deodorant, or powder, or if they pee in the pool, or poop in the pool, all of those types of things can actually inactivate the chlorine, so that it’s not as available to work at deactivating the virus,” added Kohli. “Even something as simple as someone not having taken a shower, and then jumping into the pool, the oils from their skin can actually sop up that chlorine so that not as much is available to inactivate the virus.”

Even though the water itself may be safe, CDC officials urge all swimmers to protect themselves from others at the pool by maintaining physical distances — at least six feet apart — and hand washing after coming in contact with high-touch areas.

It’s also advised to bring your own disinfectant wipes to clean off public pool chairs before your family uses them.

Water World has postponed its traditional Memorial Day weekend opening of its 41st season.

“Like you, we continue to monitor and support the latest guidance and directives from government and local health officials,” said Water World Director Bob Owens. “We don’t have a specific opening date at this time, but we will update you when we have news to share.”

Water World will have expanded disinfection intervals in guest and team members areas, including high touch points, attraction tubes/vehicles, restrooms, kitchens, trash cans and many other areas. Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the park.

Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park postponed its planned opening date of its 130th season of Saturday, May 16.

“We are still planning to open the park as soon as possible thereafter,” said Elitch Gardens General Manager David Dorman. “Just as soon as an opening date is confirmed we will communicate that directly to you.”

“Rest assured that when we open, we will have the most strict and detailed safety and sanitation protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep you and your family safe,” added Dorman.

Denver Parks & Recreation’s 14 indoor and 16 outdoor swimming pools remain closed until further notice.

The City of Aurora will continue to wait for guidance from Tri-County Health Department on when to open the city’s outdoor pools and spraygrounds, which remain closed until further notice.

> VIDEO: Swim instructors urge Coloradans to practice safety ahead of summer season.

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