Pools and gyms have closed down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This is all aimed to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19. This virus has already affected thousands and is predicted to affect millions. There is so much conflicting information in the media right now. It can be hard to know what to believe. For the avid swimmers out there, we have some facts that you need to know.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted by water?
The short answer is no. It is a respiratory virus which means it is transmitted through droplets of mucus and saliva. These are only expelled during coughs and sneezes. The droplets can travel unnoticed to another person allowing the virus to enter their nose, mouth, or eyes.
While studies still continue, this is deemed to be the only method of transmission at this time. There does not appear to be transmitted through water. However, research is continuing to look into all modes of transmission for the public.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement that COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water. The standard water treatment methods should be able to remove any sign of the virus should it get into the water.
Can chlorine kill the virus?
Many pool owners want to know if the chlorine in their pool will kill COVID-19. Assuming the pool is properly maintained a normal amount will kill the virus. The chemicals used to clean your pool are disinfectants and can work against the virus. To date, there is no evidence that the virus can spread through pool water or hot tubs to people.
Can I go swimming?
Of all the activities you can do right now, swimming is probably the safest. Especially if you have your own swimming pool. Pools that are public or part of a gym is likely closed. If you have your own pool, and it is properly maintained, swimming is safe. Public pools are not safe because of exposure on your way to the pool. Not the pool itself. There are surfaces (doors, lockers, benches, showers) you have to touch that may be contaminated.
Evidence is showing that COVID-19 can cling to surfaces like plastic and steel. It can stay there happily for up to three days. It can also hang in air droplets called aerosols for thirty minutes. At that point, it then settles onto a surface. The risk of transmission through the surface is low, but you need to be cautious.
The best way to reduce the risk is regularly washing your hands and practicing good hygiene.
Since swimming laps at a public pool is not an option, you can safely swim at home. Theoretically, if you could go swim laps alone without touching any surfaces or coming into contact with another person. But is this a risk you want to take. Local agencies made the decision for you by closing these establishments.
What about swimming in open water?
The virus is not a concern in open waters. The flow and dilution of larger bodies of water keep it safe. The trouble is that the waters will be very cold. You can swim alone, there will not be a person within 6 feet of you. But without the proper clothing, you can get hypothermia. If this is your only option for swimming, take care, wear protective clothing, and proceed with caution.
What does “flatten the curve” mean?
This phrase simply means to reduce the number of cases and slow the spread. The idea is to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with cases. They can better help and treat those affected if their resources are not stretched so thinly. If hospital and ICU beds are full and resources are low, nurses and doctors will have less abilities to save people.
Healthcare workers themselves are at great risk every day. We need to reduce the stress placed on them as much as possible. When people are tired, they make mistakes. These are people we do not want making mistakes right now. So they need your support.
When hospitals become flooded with cases, there is a difficulty in deciding who to treat. Who gets life-saving treatment and who doesn’t. We are currently not equipped to handle a mass-infection, so we need to slow the spread. The general public does this by practicing social distancing and staying at home as much as possible.
In addition to this, you can flatten the curve by:
Washing your hands frequently, particularly after being in public,or after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds each time. If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick or who may have been exposed to the virus. Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Stay home if you’re sick. If you develop symptoms or think you may have been exposed to the virus, call your healthcare provider for advice. Do not go directly to the office or the emergency room.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands thoroughly.
If you are sick and must go out in public, wear a face mask. If you are not sick, skip the face mask so that more supplies will be available to healthcare workers and others that really need them.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Use rubbing alcohol, diluted bleach, and hydrogen peroxide if disinfectant is not available.
COVID-19 is a serious pandemic but you do not have to turn into a couch potato. These times are stressful and exercise will be a good way to calm the nerves. If you do not have access to a pool, try a new form of fitness. Running, walking, cycling, or even trying a yoga video. If you can swim, then feel free and safe to do so.