Guests flock to pools for socially distanced funJune 18, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
Public swimming pools in Dubois County are filling up with guests eager to stretch out in the sun and cool off. But as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, a day at the pool is a little different than it was in the past.
While eager guests are still flocking to the municipal facilities in Jasper and Huntingburg, strictly enforced limited-capacity numbers and social-distancing measures are in place at both area destinations.
“There’s not much to do in town right now with a lot of stuff being canceled,” said Janessa Wagner, Jasper’s recreation director. “So, [the] pool’s one of the few things that’s actually open. So, people are coming, and we’re doing the best we can to keep them safe, along with my staff. But I’m pretty happy with how it’s going so far.”
Before we dive any deeper, you might be wondering: Can the novel coronavirus spread through water?
“There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs or water playgrounds,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. “Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water [with chlorine or bromine] should inactivate the virus.”
In addition to masking personnel, spacing out chairs, disinfecting surfaces extensively and deep cleaning periodically, both county facilities have capped the number of guests allowed inside at one time to 50% of their full capacity — a guideline issued by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Jasper is currently allowing 300 people in at once, while Huntingburg is limiting its attendance to 100 people.
Larry Altstadt, the Huntingburg recreation director, said his pool sometimes hits that number, depending on the weather. When that happens, guests have to wait outside for others to leave. Jasper hasn’t maxed out its reduced-entry capabilities yet, but it has come close.
Dubois County residents aren’t the only ones visiting the facilities. With other regional pools shut down for the summer, Wagner knows of families that have traveled to the Jasper pool from as far as Loogootee, Vincennes and Tell City. She said staff was aware that out-of-towners visiting the pool was “a high possibility” even before it opened in late May.
“So we have to be on our toes, and we have to make sure that we are taking care of things in the right way,” she said. “Because we’re the only option for people. So, we want to keep it that way.”
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