Public Pools & COVID-19
Author: Lauren Broom, B.S., R.S., PHTA Instructor
The COVID-19 virus is deactivated quickly using your regulatory pool code compliant chlorine or bromine levels in pools and spas. Per CDC and the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that the virus can be spread by water.
This global pandemic has changed all of us so much and has caused many questions to be asked:
- What concentration of chlorine will kill the COVID-19?
- Is it safe to swim in a public swimming pool during the pandemic?
- Is my community allowed to close our clubhouse and the public swimming pool during the pandemic?
These among many other questions are being asked of health departments that regulate public swimming pools across the country as this pandemic is affecting the whole world.
The questions that are not being asked directly or addressed outside of water quality but should still be considered when giving an answer to these public pool facilities to think about before they decide to open or close their pool are:
- What are the common surfaces in your pool area that people are going to be touching?
- How often are those surfaces going to be disinfected on a daily basis?
- What disinfectant are you using for the surfaces going into the pool area and within the pool area? Is it EPA certified to kill COVID-19?
- If you are using bleach are you using it in the proper concentration? Do you even know what concentration it needs to be to kill COVID-19?
- Who is going to be responsible for this disinfection of all the surfaces?
- Who’s going to be in charge of making sure people are following the CDC recommendations of less than 10 people on the pool deck and 6 feet apart?
- Who takes liability if something does happen?
As health departments and communities start considering these questions they are going to start figuring out these questions are not always easily answered. The liability for some of these property owners may outweigh the need to have the pool open but that will not be mandated by your local county health department if that facility is closed or not.
What health departments may recommend if you called them today would be:
- Verify that your pool company or pool operator is maintaining at all times a minimum of a 1 ppm chlorine concentration in a swimming pool or a 2 ppm concentration in a spa or minimum of a 3 ppm of bromine in the spa.
- Verified surfaces that you have going into your pool area that would be touched. Examples are:
- Latch or handle of entrance gate into pool area
- Door handles from clubhouse door into pool area
- Door handles for poolside bathroom doors
- Pool handrails
- Pool ladder handles
- Tables and chairs within the pool area
- Poolside bathroom surfaces inside like sinks, toilets, etc.
- Now that you verified those surfaces you need to pick an EPA microbial disinfectant that can kill coronavirus: see link for EPA list
- If you use to choose to use bleach, please follow the procedures below for mixing the proper concentration to kill COVID-19 and how to apply to surfaces properly.
Lastly, everyone WASH YOUR HANDS!!!