Amid high heat, community pools can be used in Riverside County without coronavirus-related restrictions, but health officials have posted a set of guidelines that they urged pool operators to observe to lessen COVID-19 exposure risks while swimmers enjoy the water.
The county Department of Environmental Health issued the guidelines following complaints during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting about prior limits on water sports, stemming from the county's local emergency orders.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries pressed health officials to make clarifications about pool gatherings and activities amid intense heat. Most areas of the county are seeing temperatures in the upper 90s this week, with daytime triple-digit highs dominating the Coachella Valley and the lower deserts to the east.
"While we are staying in place, we want residents to benefit from as much safe activity outdoors as possible,'' Board Chairman Manuel Perez said. "These guidelines are a sensible way to do that with community swimming pools.''
The Department of Environmental Health noted that there are no remaining limits on community pool operators, but they were asked to take the following precautionary steps:
-- stress the need for social distancing, keeping swimmers and poolside observers six feet apart;
-- decline large pool parties and discourage other gatherings, outside of families from the same household;
-- provide hand sanitizer to guests;
-- keep plenty of soap and paper towels on hand;
-- provide time slots for activity to limit crowding;
-- assign staff members to sanitation details for disinfection of the pool area;
-- limit spa usage to one person or small groups from the same household at a time; and
-- post signs urging users to wash their hands regularly, cover their facial orifices when coughing or sneezing and leave the pool immediately if experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19, the flu or other illnesses.
The coronavirus pathogen does not migrate in water, officials said, but properly maintained chlorine levels in pools and spas are a must.
Additional information is available at www.rivcoeh.org/OurServices/PoolsSpasWaterFeatures.