Coronavirus And Swimmers: CDC Issues Guidance On Water Transmission & COVID-19

coronaviruscovid19CDCwater

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued clarification and guidance on COVID-19 and treated recreational water venues. The advice and answers provided are useful to swimmers, swim programs and swimming venues.

The guidance in full:

Water Transmission and COVID-19

Drinking Water, Recreational Water and Wastewater: What You Need to Know

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through drinking water?
  • The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
Is the COVID-19 virus found in feces?
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in the feces of some patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The amount of virus released from the body (shed) in stool, how long the virus is shed, and whether the virus in stool is infectious are not known.
  • The risk of transmission of COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person is also unknown. However, the risk is expected to be low based on data from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). There have been no reports of fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 to date.
Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools and hot tubs?
  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewerage systems?
  • CDC is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available. At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems is thought to be low. Although transmission of COVID-19 through sewage may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred. This guidance will be updated as necessary as new evidence is assessed.
  • SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 2 to 14 days. In the 2003 SARS outbreak, there was documented transmission associated with sewage aerosols. Data suggest that standard municipal wastewater system chlorination practices may be sufficient to inactivate coronaviruses, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted.
  • Wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices, practice basic hygiene precautions, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as prescribed for current work tasks.
Should wastewater workers take extra precautions to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus?
  • Wastewater treatment plant operations should ensure workers follow routine practices to prevent exposure to wastewater. These include using engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE normally required for work tasks when handling untreated wastewater. No additional COVID-19–specific protections are recommended for employees involved in wastewater management operations, including those at wastewater treatment facilities.

For further information and links to deeper understanding, go to the dedicated page at the CDC website.

The Association of Aquatic Professionals has been monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and how that is impacting its global membership. Today it issued the abide guidance to members and noted: “We’ve heard from many of you with questions about how this virus might affect your own operations, especially in relation to treated pool water. Today, we have received clarification on this question from our partners with the CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch.

“We will continue to work on gathering additional information that might be helpful to you as you prepare to manage and mitigate the spread of the virus in your local community. Our first priority is to provide you with resources that help you keep your guests and team members safe and healthy. Please look for additional Member Alerts from us in the coming days.”

 

69 comments

  1. Yared Cervantes

    Ellis CervantesRegina HernandezValeria HernandezItzy GonzalezNicole Lopez Kohlmann

  2. Becky Menso

    Jill Jill Jorgensen Williams

  3. Andrea Walter Ballard

    Rob Snowberger- just in case you have any families questioning Pool School!

  4. Sam Harris

    Jake Harris this is what i was talking about

    • Kath Erine

      Mindi Schnur-Bazan that’s probably more to do with the volumes of people and crowds rather than pool water. Lots of events are currently being cancelled/postponed since it was declared a pandemic.

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        Picked up online groceries and the spots were much busier than normal.😀

      • avatar
        Ruby B

        Mindi Shur Bazan. Ronald Reagan did away with the teaching of civics in high school and it shows in your case. Your mindless response to the problem being crowds at pool rather than the pool water showed that. Yes, Walmart is still open. Groceries, health care, car maintenance, are among the items deemed essential for life. Swimming is not. You may feel like you will die if you don’t swim (I certainly do), but you won’t die. If you had no access to food or healthcare, you might die.

    • Kath Erine

      Mindi Schnur-Bazan enter at your own risk 😱

  5. avatar
    Bernie

    76 yrs old with bad knees, swimming is my only exercise. been paranoid about transmission at univ pool, still worried about locker room. MY AGE GROUP IS THE TARGET OF THIS THING. SO WANT TO SWIM. HATE BEING AFRAID.

    APPRECIATE THE INFO

    • avatar
      erUK claptone

      brotha man, brotha man, brotha maaaaaan

  6. avatar
    Leo germinario

    Does the status explained above apply to saltwaterish pools? Are there different types of saltwater pools for indoor and outdoors? NAPLES Fl and ymca.

  7. avatar
    David C

    “There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs.” This statement is true, but to conclude that pools and hot tubs are safe is not a valid conclusion. Why is there “no evidence?” Because no one has checked? I would hope a public health recommendation would be based on positive experimental evidence that the disease *is killed* by chlorine and bromine at pool & tub concentrations, rather than the lack of evidence that it survives. I know there are a lot of avid swimmers here who want to believe that swimming is absolutely safe–and I do too–but you may only get to make this mistake once. I am merely advocating a level of caution higher than that suggested in the article.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      I agree with u and I swim 3 days a week and dohtvwant yo hive ur up either.
      However, I am stopping till more firm data or virus is under control.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      I agree as well. I swim twice a week and will stop for now. All the contact in and around the pool is not a good idea even if being in the water is not “proven” to be linked to disease transmission.

    • avatar
      Sanjosemike

      There is nothing wrong with taking “reasonable” precautions and giving up swimming for a while, especially in an indoor public pool. So far, the data suggests that nobody has been infected by the Covid-19 virus other than in human to human interaction or possible surface contamination. Or unknown.

      As you say, this does not mean it is impossible to get infected by contact with PEOPLE in the locker-room and shower areas, especially if inside.

      CDC has indicated that about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the virus is inactivated and “desiccated.” It cannot tolerate exposure to ultraviolet radiation from open sun light either.

      Like many here, lap swimming is an important exercise for me. If I decide to use a pool, it will be an outdoor one, and I will prefer not to use the locker room, but shower off at their outdoor showers or home. Public pools do not generally “trust” patrons to shower at home. But many have outdoor showers and you can “prove” that you used it, as the staff sees you use it.

      (Disclosure: I am a retired surgeon. But that does not make me always right. I refer to CDC only for instructions. They know more than I do.)

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

        Thank you.

      • avatar
        John MacLean

        I see a few problems that are common practice that should change.

        1. Everyone needs to have a soapy shower before entering the pool. Virus can be in feces, dead skin, sweat.

        2. Water temperature should be lowered a few degrees for a couple of reasons. Swimmers if they are working hard can sweat a lot and 2 sanitizers will be more effective longer

        3. Too many swimmers in close proximity. I would suggest no more than 3 max in a 25 m/yd pool and absolutely no congregating at the ends of the pool. I realize for swim teams training this would mean major modifications to the typical workouts but coaches need to show some creativity which most are like robots and boring people.

        I’m going to ask someone like CLOROX company what tests they have done as these guys should know their stuff and if tested, thumbs up or thumbs down.

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

        Thanks for those thoughts John.

      • avatar
        Ronan

        Fort Lauderdale has spilled 211 million gallons of raw sewage into their canals (recent pipes breakage). A good candidate for a no swim zone.

  8. avatar
    Tim

    Can the virus be transmitted in freshwater creeks, rivers, ponds or lakes?

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

      Tim, we’re awaiting answers from experts but U.S. research in 2008 indicates that the virus can survive in waters of 4C top to around 23C for lengthy periods of time. We’re seeking clarification on the precise nature and conditions described in that research.

      • avatar
        JAllen

        Hello, I am also very interested re: swimming and canoeing in streams, ponds, and lakes (I realize these are different sorts of settings). If and when the information is available. Thank you.

      • avatar
        Kristin

        Hi! i was curious if there is any updated information on swimming in lakes, ponds and creeks, thank you!

  9. avatar
    John MacLean

    Any new evidence lately? When I read the virus can survive in air for hours and on plastic surfaces up to 9 days as well it needs to get in the lungs for you to become infected, swimming workouts concern me. I do have a habit of constantly washing pool water in my mouth as I swim. Has any lab actually done testing on pool water and effectiveness killing this virus?

  10. avatar
    Bittle

    Are saltwater indoor pools safe?

  11. avatar
    john

    my daughter swim team is still open during this crisis time. even they cut hours and lesser 1 day practice, but it is still a lot of swimmers show up at the pools. Never know who is infected or carrier even no show any cough, fever, … I feel very bad and talked to their managers, coaches, head coach…. But I guess they depended article ” water killed virus ” and keep open for their business.

    • avatar
      Jeanne

      How long did your daughter’s swim team continue to practice? We practiced at the Y and it has been closed since prior to your comment. I am hopeful our summer swim will be cancelled or at least delayed. Swim meets with hundreds of people is what I worry about, not as much the water issue. Although after kids swim a race they sometimes come out coughing.

  12. avatar
    E Craft

    Is there any info on viability of virus in seawater

  13. avatar
    Terry Ferguson

    Can covid-19 survive in lakes and streams that are not treated with chemicals. Their is algae and plankton etc ., that would be a prime food source.

    • avatar
      Paul

      Technically a virus is not really a living organism. It’s a protein that needs another cell to replicate. So it does not need food so it would not necessarily be eating algae and plankton. The unknown is will it be able to enter the plankton or algae cell and start to replicate.

  14. avatar
    Anonymous

    No Longer Pays to Live on Miami Beach – Cruise Ships Always Flushing Tanks Into Our Ocean !

  15. avatar
    Diane Door

    I am a professional Water Fitness instructor. I agree with the folks here who question swimming safety. The pool water itself may be safe, but no one anywhere has yet done water vapor testing. That 10-12 inches above the pool surface where evaporation occurs can be a trampoline for pathogens. A cough, a sneeze, a laugh, a deep breath or “spraying it while saying it” can send all kinds of fun stuff bouncing out into the micro vapors and we don’t know if there is enough chlorine/bromine to catch those nasty globules before the next guy even 10 feet away sucks it in. For my folks working out in chest deep water, that could be deadly. Masks in the pool? How far apart? Body temps before admission to a pool area? Shower checks? Clean your bum good enough? Oh yeah, let’s not even start on locker rooms. We just don’t have enough research yet to risk it. Private pool sales will soar this summer.

  16. avatar
    Joseph l caruso

    I been swimming 5 times a week at one mile pace. It certainly helps with stress and look forward each day. I have a swimming coach one day a week. Possibility 6 miles a week maybe too much but I have this attitude for several years.

    Joseph l Caruso DDS MS

  17. Kimberly Wright Reher

    Kerry Malinger very small chance of transmission through water. I would think that if pools properly treated that small chance almost disappears?

  18. Diana Terry Bolding

    If people think it contagious then they shouldn’t swim – enter at your own risk

  19. Lauren Miles Lee

    I’m not worried about my daughter contracting the virus while literally swimming in the pool. I believe chlorine probably kills the virus. However, the swimmers are not submerged the entire time. They breathe near each other when they are above water and touch lots of surfaces in and around the pool. My daughter and some teammates once caught the flu at a meet, so pool complexes are no safer than anywhere else as far as spreading germs of any kind. I know coaches, officials, and parents that get sick at practices and meets. The swimmers aren’t going to be submerged the entire practice. They have to walk in and out, touching door handles and other services, breathing near other swimmers and coaches, etc. What can be done to guarantee swimmer safety (and the people who aren’t swimming) when they aren’t in the water covered in chlorine?

    • Kathy Brown

      Lauren Miles Lee my kids are back in the pool- go to the pool in their suits and come come in their suits- no locker rooms. – we live in Alaska

    • Rob Richardson

      Lauren Miles Lee there are no guarantees in life. You weigh the risk like any other day before you walk out the door. More likely they would be hurt in a car accident than contracting the virus in/at the pool or anywhere else they would normally go.

    • Pamela Cooper Shepard

      Lauren Miles Lee check vitamin D levels and supplement if needed. Add 1000 mg Vitamin C and zinc

    • Kate Dunne

      Lauren Miles Lee Then keep your kid at home and leave my kid and our family decision to us! Open the pools!

    • Buster Smith

      Kate Dunne you sound simple. You didn’t even read what she said. She is pro-taking the kids to the pool. You just want to tell people to leave kids here or there lol. Dont be a troll. Ya’ll are on the same side🤡

    • Kate Dunne

      Buster Smith i am not a troll! She os scared does not think that the chlorine is going to protect people from the virus… So if that’s the case… Keep your kid at home…Who is my family decision to our family… And let’s move on

    • Buster Smith

      Kate Dunne her fist sentence is literally “I’m not worried about mmt daughter contracting the virus while in the pool. So obviously she isn’t “scared”. There’s nothing wrong with having concerns. You look at someone and say stay home then. It doesn’t make sense given the context. Oh well. I dont know her. It’s more so your issue. I just wanted to call you out for being shitty. Because you were

      • avatar
        John MacLean

        Fully agree Buster. Safety should always be first and anyone voicing a valid concern needs to be listened to, not rudely shut down by ignorance. I’ve seen enough top swimmers crash and burn at big meets because of colds, flu etc and maybe this is a good wake up call. Hygiene hygiene hygiene and if a pool facility isn’t practicing it and their patrons, shut them down!

  20. Stacey Maddrey

    Open the pools sick people stay home. Check temps if you have to but come on

    • Kath Erine

      Stacey Maddrey you can easily get around the temp taking by taking panadol before you arrive.

  21. Sheri Thompson

    I’ve said it before…duh!
    Now open the pools!

  22. Cindi Wood

    Open the pools! Who poops in the pool anyway? 😩

  23. Marian Hand

    Michelle Lujan Grisham Let’s get our pools open and our kids who swim competitively back at practice!