(Originally posted on July 27, 2020)

World file photo/Don Seabrook

With a heat advisory in effect for the Wenatchee Valley starting today, residents might be flocking to the water for a chance to cool down. Yet, most pools and water parks, most recently including Slidewaters, are closed for the 2020 season. This generated a discussion on NABUR regarding the safety of opening the water park versus the safety of public parks, especially as public parks become packed with people.

“I think being at Slidewaters with only a [percent] of capacity, in the chlorinated water, has got to be better than the crowds of people at the parks around the lake,” NABUR user Mary R. commented on the discussion. What do you think? Join the conversation here.  

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that the virus can spread to people through water, though the health agency still recommends following proper safety precautions. It is still recommended to maintain six feet of distance both in and out of the water. Face coverings are also recommended to be worn out of the water, and the CDC advises bringing two face covers in case one gets wet. 

Social distancing at public pools may be especially hard during peak times in the season when large crowds are fenced into the pool area. The chances of being exposed to the virus are most prevalent in indoor spaces around the pool, such as bathrooms and changing areas, according to The New York Times. 

Yet, some public outdoor spaces have proved to be just as crowded with little to no supervision around shared indoor spaces. Last week, Washington State Parks announced that both Lake Wenatchee and Lake Chelan will begin turning visitors away once the parks reach capacity, with employees monitoring entrances. 

The Wenatchee City Pool, the Wenatchee Valley YMCA Aquatic Center, Cashmere City Pool and the Howard Hopkins Memorial Pool in Leavenworth are closed for the season. Slidewaters, after opening against Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan, was forced to close on July 20 and was issued a roughly $10,000 fine. 

In a press release, the city of Leavenworth cited public health concerns and operational challenges as the reasons for closure. The city of Wenatchee cited “COVID related safety, health, operational and facility issues,” and offered refunds for pool rentals and swimming lessons. 

“That sort of 'out of the house & in the sunshine' really isn't safe,” said NABUR user Calvin C. in a recent discussion. “I'd have liked to see Inslee enforcing social distancing at parks, etc., but if enforcement isn't working then I think limiting visitors is probably the way to go.”

What are your thoughts on the discussion? Have you or your family been swimming at public parks? Did you feel safe? Join the conversation here.