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Public pool safety in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic

Several precautions are in place to keep people safe at the Mentor Civic Center pool. However, everyone will need to do their part to protect themselves and others.

MENTOR, Ohio —

It's the first time 8-month-old Clara Gesing is taking a dip in a public pool.

“She likes the water usually,” says Clara’s father Brian.

That’s why Gesing, his wife and two daughters decided to celebrate Father's Day at the Mentor Civic Center Pool.  However, things are different this year.

“Some things are closed that weren't last year,” says Gesing.  My daughter really likes the kiddie pool.  Can't go in there.”

The closure is due to pool staff instituting new precautions to keep everyone safe in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We're really taking it seriously and making sure everything is cleaned,” says pool manager Kelsy Saywell.

Every hour at the top of the hour the pool is cleared of people so high touch surfaces can be cleaned and sanitized. Pool staff have also limited entrance to the pool to Mentor residents and cut their max capacity to 300 people.

“Our numbers are a little bit lower so we would normally see about 100 plus (people at a time), right now the max we reached is about 90,” says Saywell.

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For those worried about contracting COVID-19 in the water, experts say there's no need to be concerned.

“Luckily, that's one thing you really don't have to worry about is transmission through water,” Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at UTHealth, told KHOU in Houston. “It's going to depend on how crowded spaces are if you can keep that physical distancing or not.”

That's where the age of the swimmers should be considered.

A pediatrician wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer that when it comes to pools and the coronavirus, parents should ask themselves if their child will be able to remain socially distant from other children.

The doctor recommends going to a public pool earlier in the day when crowds are smaller and choosing an outdoor pool over an indoor pool because they're safer due to better ventilation.

For the Gesing family, they're glad to be back in the water but they still want everyone to do their part to stay safe.

“Even though it doesn't seem like it, in a lot of areas this pandemic is very real and we should all be doing what we can to keep each other safe.”

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