Beach and pool water safety from COVID-19

Published: May. 14, 2020 at 8:18 PM EDT
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Right now many are concerned about where it's safe to visit when it comes to COVID-19, but what risks are there if you head to the beach?

That is the question for many as the weather warms up, enticing visitors to flock to the coast.

"The virus that causes COVID-19, the risk associated with recreation at the beach is actually very small or thought to be very small."

Experts at UNC's Institute of Marine Sciences say the biggest concern for beachgoers is actually the volume of people they come in contact with and the enclosed places they are going.

Dr. Rachel Noble, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences professor says, "What becomes an issue is all the activities that come with going to the beach."

That means good hygiene and social distancing is important.

While researchers are currently monitoring water samples and doing more work, so far it seems promising that the salt water and sun are harmful to COVID-19.

Noble says, "We have the benefits of small amounts of literature that show us with salt and in salty water, mostly tested in laboratory environments, but that salt is damaging to the SARS-COV-2 virus which is the virus that causes COVID-19."

But what about swimming pools? They are not all created equal, but if properly chlorinated, Dr. Rachel Noble says the water should be relatively safe, but again it's how many people are you coming in contact with.

Noble says, "I would expect that the risk associated with the water itself to be very low but we all know what pools look like in eastern Carolina in the summer time."

Dr. Noble and her team are currently doing more research on water quality when it comes to COVIC-19 and they hope to expand soon to include all types of bodies of water. She says the best way to stay healthy is by continuing with social distancing and good hygiene.