LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As temperatures rise across Los Angeles, people are searching for ways to cool down.
Although community pools across the county remain closed under state orders, experts, including L.A. County’s public health director, say if done right, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in an outdoor pool is low.
“Swimming in a pool is definitely safe,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. “We have had evidence from CDC that being in a pool is a safe activity.”
Other health experts agreed with Ferrer, saying swimming is a safe activity.
“Pools are actually very safe. The chlorine in pools is going to deactivate the virus and saltwater and oceans are not good environments for the virus to grow,” said Dr. Michael Hochman, the director of USC’s Gher Family Center
Hochman said even in a pool, you should maintain some distance, but as a parent, he said he also recognizes how difficult it is to keep kids apart in a pool.
“Of course when they are in close interaction with each other there’s going to be that risk of spread,” he said. “But I also think it’s important to realize you don’t have to panic if there is a brief period where they are close to each other. The virus really seems to need prolonged exposure — five to 10, 15 minutes or longer when closer than a six-foot range for it to have a high chance of spread there.”
Some community pool managers across L.A. County said they are waiting on direction from the health department before they open.
Pasadena’s public health care department released its own guidelines recommending managers.
- Create a disinfection plan.
- Lower pool occupancy.
- Space out furniture.
- Post signage reminding people to swim only with household members.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Bring hand sanitizer.
Experts agree that being outdoors reducing the risk, but as for the big question as to whether heat inactivates the virus. Hochman and other experts say there is still no indication that is the case.
Hochman also recommends that those swimming continue to wear face coverings when swimmers are out of the pool.