Be Aware of CDC Guidelines If You Are Getting Back in the Pool

lane-line-pool-generic-njsaa swimming
Water and COVID-19: Photo Courtesy: CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Pools Guidance, including “Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds” has been updated to extend the promotion of “Behaviors that Prevent the Spread” of the novel coronavirus to advice on “Healthy Environments & Operations”.

The update comes as pools put their minds to revival strategies and Water Safety USA renews its call for stakeholders to help develop a National Water Safety Action Plan.

The CDC updates mirror many of the points made by Prof. Vincenzo Spica in a COVID-19 Swimming Pool Study underway in partnership with Myrtha Pools.

Here are the sections pertaining to pool environments:

COVID-19 Pools Guidance

Maintaining Healthy Environments

To maintain healthy environments, operators of public aquatic venues may consider:

  • Cleaning and Disinfection
    • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects each time they are used. For example:
      • Handrails, slides, and structures for climbing or playing
      • Lounge chairs, tabletops, pool noodles, and kickboards
      • Door handles and surfaces of restrooms, handwashing stations, diaper-changing stations, and showers
    • Consulting with the company or engineer that designed the aquatic venue to decide which List N disinfectants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyexternal icon (EPA) are best for your aquatic venue.
    • Setting up a system so that furniture (for example, lounge chairs) that needs to be cleaned and disinfected is kept separate from already cleaned and disinfected furniture.
    • Labeling containers for used equipment that has not yet been cleaned and disinfected and containers for cleaned and disinfected equipment.
    • Laundering towels and clothing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water temperature and dry items completely.
    • Protecting shared furniture, equipment, towels, and clothing that has been cleaned and disinfected from becoming contaminated before use.
    • Ensuring safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants, including storing products securely away from children.
  •  Ventilation
    • Ensuring that ventilation systems of indoor spaces operate properly.
    • Increasing introduction and circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, or other methods. However, do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk to staff, patrons, or swimmers.
  • Water Systems
    • Taking steps to ensure that all water systems (for example, drinking fountains, decorative fountains, hot tubs) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
  • Modified Layouts
    • Changing deck layouts to ensure that in the standing and seating areas, individuals can remain at least 6 feet apart from those they don’t live with.
  • Physical Barriers and Guides
    • Providing physical cues or guides (for example, lane lines in the water or chairs and tables on the deck) and visual cues (for example, tape on the decks, floors, or sidewalks) and signs to ensure that staff, patrons, and swimmers stay at least 6 feet apart from those they don’t live with, both in and out of the water.
  • Communal Spaces
    • Staggering use of communal spaces (for example, in the water or breakroom), if possible, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects each time they are used.
  • Shared Objects
    • Discouraging people from sharing items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect or that are meant to come in contact with the face (for example, goggles, nose clips, and snorkels).
    • Discouraging the sharing of items such as food, equipment, toys, and supplies with those they don’t live with.
    • Ensuring adequate equipment for patrons and swimmers, such as kick boards and pool noodles, to minimize sharing to the extent possible, or limiting use of equipment by one group of users at a time and cleaning and disinfecting between use. 

COVID-19 Pools Guidance

Maintaining Healthy Operations

To maintain healthy operations, operators of public aquatic venues may consider:

  • Protections for Vulnerable Staff
    • Offering options such as telework or modified job responsibilities that reduce their risk of getting infected.
    • Limiting aquatic venue use to only staff, patrons, and swimmers who live in the local area, if feasible.
  • Lifeguards and Water Safety
    • Ensuring that lifeguards who are actively lifeguarding are not also expected to monitor handwashing, use of cloth face coverings, or social distancing of others. Assign this monitoring responsibility to another staff member.
  • Alterations of Public Aquatic Venues
    • Consulting the company or engineer that designed the aquatic venue before altering aquatic features (for example, slides and structures designed for climbing or playing).
  • Regulatory Awareness
    • Being aware of local or state regulatory agency policies on gathering requirements or recommendations to determine if events, such as aquatic fitness classes, swim lessons, swim team practice, swim meets, or pool parties can be held.
  • Staggered or Rotated Shifts
    • Staggering or rotating shifts to limit the number of staff present at the aquatic venue at the same time.
  • Designated COVID-19 Point of Contact
    • Designating a staff member to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All staff should know who this person is and how to contact him or her.
  • Gatherings
      • Avoiding group events, gatherings, or meetings both in and out of the water if social distancing of at least 6 feet between people who don’t live together cannot be maintained. Exceptions to the social distancing guidance include:
        • Anyone rescuing a distressed swimmer, providing first aid, or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with or without an automated external defibrillator.
        • Individuals in the process of evacuating an aquatic venue or entire facility due to an emergency.
      • If planned events must be conducted, staggering drop-off and pick-up times, as much as possible, to maintain distance of at least 6 feet between people who don’t live together.
      • Asking parents to consider if their children are capable of staying at least 6 feet apart from people they don’t live with before taking them to a public aquatic venue.
      • Limiting any nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations.
  • Communication Systems
    • Putting systems in place for:
      • Having staff, patrons, and swimmers self-report if they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
      • Notifying local health authorities of COVID-19 cases.
      • Notifying staff, patrons, and swimmers (as feasible) of potential COVID-19 exposures while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) external icon.
      • Notifying staff, patrons, and swimmers of aquatic venue closures.
  • Leave Policies
    • Implementing sick leave (time off) policies and practices for staff that are flexible and non-punitive.
    • Developing return-to-work policies aligned with CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.
  • Back-Up Staffing Plan
    • Monitoring absenteeism of staff and creating a roster of trained back-up staff.
  • Staff Training
    • Training staff on all safety protocols.
    • Conducting training virtually or ensuring that social distancing is maintained during in-person training.
  • Recognize Signs and Symptoms
    • Conducting daily health checks (for example, temperature screening or symptom checking) of staff. Ensure safe and respectful implementation that is aligned with any applicable privacy laws and regulations.
      • Consider using examples of screening methods in CDC’s General Business FAQs as a guide.

COVID-19 Pools Guidance

Preparing for When Someone Gets Sick

To prepare for when someone gets sick, operators of public aquatic venues may consider:

  • Isolating and transporting those who are sick to their home or a healthcare provider.
    • Immediately separating staff, patrons, or swimmers with COVID-19 symptoms (for example, fever, cough, or shortness of breath).
    • Establishing procedures for safely transporting anyone sick to their home or to a healthcare provider.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection

The latest CDC COVID-19 Pools Guidance in full

23 comments

  1. Dick Beaver

    Check out the new CDC announcement that this “flu” probably can’t be passed from surfaces.
    Hmmm. Locker room floors, benches, lockers, doors, etc.

    • Craig Lord

      Dick Beaver not a flu and your words are inaccurate, again

    • Dick Beaver

      Craig Lord ok, substitute the word virus.

    • Dick Beaver

      Craig Lord you’re completely miss the sarcasm. It doesn’t show in print.

    • John Mcleod

      Dick Beaver source that claim my friend!

  2. Yeah so now it’s not on surfaces not in chlorine water but in the air – so like all the other crap floating in the air ??‍♀️ open it up!!

  3. Jenny Ochs

    Yet all our local pools won’t open for summer.

    • Katelyn King

      Jenny Ochs I know right.. I work as a lifeguard and our pool isn’t opening until June 26th at the earliest

    • Jenny Ochs

      Katelyn King luck ours aren’t opening at all. Not in any surrounding community. So everyone will be flocking to the beaches instead. I’m just ready to Cruise again

    • Katelyn King

      Jenny Ochs I hope ours will actually open or else I won’t have a job

    • Jenny Ochs

      Katelyn King fingers crossed for you

  4. Spencer Pinter

    Where have you been for the past seven days (or so), COVID-19 season is over… ???

  5. avatar
    Jack Smith

    So let me get this straight: It’s perfectly OK to gather by the tens of thousands in extremely close proximity while completely ignoring ALL Covid-19 protocols, if you are protesting (& looting and rioting), but it’s not OK to swim laps (1 swimmer per lane) in a chlorinated swimming pool that follows very strict health standards of sanitation? The lack of common sense is overwhelming to me. My lord, if you’re worried about locker room contaminations, just take them out of the picture altogether, done! People can very easily (& I know all of us would no problem with it) go from their vehicles to the pool & back to their vehicles when done. We can all do the locker room “stuff” at home. What’s the issue?

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      Jack, no, it isn’t ‘perfectly OK’ to gather in large numbers to protest during a pandemic (neither is racism, nor police brutality, nor tear-gassing people so a man can pose with a bible outside a church etc etc etc) … the protests are, however, largely unavoidable and beyond the control of police and other authorities if the majority peace is to be maintained (looting is criminality and should be treated as such). Meanwhile, on the very separate issue of pools: Many safety measures and strategies in place (many elite programs are already back in the water and training is happening on a regular basis; a few places it never stopped) and proposed far and wide do indeed suggest things like ‘no use of changing rooms’, one-way systems of human traffic, caution with air flows in old pools with horizontal systems proven to have aided the spread of virus, and so on and so forth. I think strong arguments for a safe return to pools, which does not mean ‘all back to how it was’ are weakened by that shrillest of voice screaming stuff like “Open Up at all cost – My kid is bored!” (what happened to resilience, innovative thinking, empathy for others etc) and “This is just a ‘flu’ (No, it is not); and “Chlorine kills everything (No, it doesn’t). That’s the issue (irresponsible thickheadedness) alongside politicians and others with liability presumably anxious not to get sued. In the middle, is, as you suggest, a way back that relies on common sense and practices that may have been forgotten or never practiced by some in swimming but long of this world, including getting ready for a swim and returning home without the provision of a changing room (open water swimmers the world over know it!). Part of that getting ready is, of course, taking a shower and wearing clean clothes before setting out to practice / a swim, body hygiene important to the efficacy of chlorine, as explained here, along with lots of other common sense stuff that makes swimming possible and workable: https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/swimming-pool-safety-in-focus-as-hygiene-expert-professor-spica-tests-revival-waters-with-us/

  6. avatar
    Janet Tope

    I am wondering about swimming next to someone on the lane next to me who is wearing a snorkel. The beauty of swimming is we mostly exhale in the water. If someone in the lane next to me is continuously exhaling straight up into the air… aren’t their aerosols being released in the air that may blow over to me as I’m inhaling? There is most always a nice breeze. I’m really not comfortable swimming next to someone wearing a snorkel even 3/4 lanes over. Am I being paranoid?