Indy pools reopen with safety measures; experts weigh in on COVID risk

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — Local pools are reopening for the summer.

With vaccines available and COVID-19 restrictions easing in some communities, we wanted to know what pool season looks like for you and your family.

At Indy Parks pool locations, families can expect similar measures from last year. That includes face masks (when not in the water,) social distancing and capacity limits.

Each location has about two session times when opening for the day. Staff will clean and disinfect all surface areas, pool decks and bathhouses in between sessions.

Chrissy Cole, park manager with Indy Island, says it’s best families arrive early.

“We’re not doing the one for one,” said Cole. “So when people leave, when we’re at capacity, we don’t allow more people in because it’s kind of like keeping the germs that are here, they’re already here. We don’t want to cross contaminate.”

“Get to your pool early,” she added. “It seems like people that wait a little bit longer, they’re not as likely to get in. So we tell people here at Indy Island, if we open at 11:30, you might want to get here at 11 because people start to line up.”

Cole says parks are also skipping out on hosting events like birthday parties that may draw in more people.

“We don’t do birthday parties or indoor rentals currently right now,” said Cole. “We’re just trying to keep it strictly to pool patrons themselves.”

While some pools are already open, Indy Parks plans to open around nine or ten locations to help thin out crowds.

If you’re too late to make it to the pool, Splash Pads are also open and free to enjoy.

As pools continue on with safety measures, what are the chances of catching COVID-19 in the swimming pool?

Dr. Christopher Belcher, medical director of infection prevention at Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis, says there’s no scientific evidence to support that claim currently.

“Swimming pools do not seem to add any additional risks to the things we already know about COVID,” said Belcher.

While many kids are not old enough to be vaccinated, Belcher says they can still enjoy public pools, but with safety in mind.

“For the unvaccinated individuals, which most kids are at this point, you want to do the things we’ve been talking about the whole pandemic,” he said. “Wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands, all those good things. The pool won’t add anything particular to it, but it is a place where people tend to crowd together.”

Though there’s no scientific evidence that shows COVID spreads in swimming pools, or by water, Belcher says it doesn’t mean other germs and viruses aren’t out there.

“There are some germs that are resistant, like Giardia, aren’t killed by chlorine,” said Belcher. “Some of the viruses can last a few minutes in chlorinated water, but a well-maintained pool should be very safe for most people.”

The CDC has also issued guidance on pools as they reopen. You can take a look here.

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