Can COVID-19 live in water? Houston Methodist pathologist explains

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HOUSTON- Pool and beach season isn’t off to a usual start thanks to COVID-19. However, you may be wondering, when pools are able to increase their capacity and when waterparks are able to open, will they be safe?

“What we know is that in general, COVID-19 and other coronaviruses don’t survive in drinking water that has been chlorinated or chemically treated and can’t survive in properly maintained swimming pool water,” explained Dr. Wesley Long, a pathologist at Houston Methodist.

When it comes to beaches and lakes, though they are not chemically treated, Dr. Long says they are still not spots the virus will survive.

“Even if you were to cough or sneeze into that large body of water it is going to disperse and dilute to the point, even if it did survive, there would be virtually nothing there,” said Long.

Before you jump in though—here’s where the risks are.

“If there’s not good hand washing available, if you’re sharing beach towels or beach toys or food and drink items, that’s where the real risk of transmission is going to come in, more than any sort of theoretical risk of exposure to the water,” said Long.

So while the water isn’t cause for extra concern, for now, the beaches and pools should not look like they did before the virus. Maintaining our distance and our hygiene is key.

“I think it is important that people remember even though we are reopening, the virus is still present in the community. Vaccine development efforts continue, treatment research continues and so we will eventually be on the backside of this, it is just going to take time,” said Long.


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