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With summer upon us at our Retirement Community in Columbia, SC, it’s no surprise that folks are wanting to take a dip in the pool. However, with all the questions surrounding COVID-19, some are wondering if pools are even safe any more. While we know that information can change, Still Hopes Retirement Community in Columbia SC has been closely following the information disseminated by health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Based upon the information we have studied, Still Hopes has decided to re-open our indoor pool on a very limited basis to our current residents that live on campus. Our pool has been completely closed since March of this year and the decision to re-open has been approached with extreme caution. However, the Still Hopes Retirement Community in Columbia SC leadership team, including Still Hopes’ Director of Wellness, Denise Heimlich, feel confident that re-opening on a limited basis is a safe measured step.

Denise explains “The CDC states that there is no current evidence that the novel coronavirus can spread through treated pool water. Our pool uses an ultraviolet sanitation system as well as a small amount of chlorine. Both have been shown effective in destroying the virus. The CDC has issued guidelines for the safe operation of swimming pools that we are following closely. The most important is to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from any other person unless from the same family. People are urged to maintain social distancing whether in the pool or on deck. The primary means of viral transmission is through speaking, coughing, sneezing, talking, or singing.”

“The Still Hopes pool has a large ventilation system that moves huge amounts of air per minute. Air exchange is important for removing suspended viral particles. We measured the square footage of the pool, so we know, from CDC guidelines that we can have no more than 8 people in the pool at a time. Thus, we have check in times for pool sessions and swimmers will reserve their time in the pool so that we can keep count of pool users.” says Denise.

In conclusion, Denise states “Other guidelines state that all adults should wear a mask while on deck, unless there is a medical reason not to do so, but do not wear a mask in the pool. Water soaked masks severely limit breathing. No equipment is to be shared. If you bring your own, don’t share it. We will no longer leave equipment such as noodles on deck for anyone to use. New noodles will be offered for sale in the Wellness Center. No one is to use the locker rooms for showering or changing clothes. All touchable surfaces will be sanitized by staff after each pool session. If people carefully follow recommended procedures, the risk of getting COVID-19 should be low.” So, with all of these things in mind, Still Hopes looks forward to offering this wellness option to our residents two days a week at limited times beginning July 14th. With all the stress that comes along with living in a global pandemic, Still Hopes strives to meet as many of our residents’ needs as possible. It has been shown that one of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief, and we believe our pool can play a vital role. What are some of your favorite ways to relieve stress right now? Please let us know over on our Facebook page!