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Swimming pools unlikely to transfer COVID-19, expert says

“That doesn't excuse the need for social distancing," said Ernest Blatchley, an environmental engineeing professor at Purdue
Briggs Park Pool
Posted at 5:46 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 17:49:12-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An expert with Purdue University says that swimming pools are unlikely to transmit viruses like COVID-19 if proper chlorine levels are maintained.

“The risk of transmission of the virus in water is very low," Ernest Blatchley, a professor of environmental engineering with Purdue, told FOX 17 Friday.

“That doesn't excuse the need for social distancing and the other things that really have become, or should have become, part of our kind of normal behavior these days."

Blatchley says that as long as proper chlorine levels are maintained in your pool, viruses like COVID-19 should not be able to survive while in the water.

He says that ideally you want “to maintain free chlorine between about 1 and 5 milligrams per liter."

And while just because you likely can't pass the virus through the pool's water, you will have to be careful in how you interact with people and common touch points around you.

“Think back to your childhood when you went to the pool. Social distancing was not part of the game. It's not how we operate when we're in a pool," Blatchley said Friday.

"So we're really asking people, expecting people, at least from a public health perspective, to start following this new norm in a setting where they clearly are not used to doing that.”

He says if your pool is indoor, that can come with it's own set of concerns as the virus can spread through the air in enclosed spaces.

"I think people need to recognize that... the way that we've used swimming pools in the past includes practices that probably increase the risk of this virus transmission. And we need to be aware of that and respectful of those that are around us," Blatchley said.