Health officials optimistic about safety of water activities for Memorial Day

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With Memorial Day only days away, residents across the Mid-South are eyeing the holiday as a way to get outside and enjoy some fun in the sun.

Health experts are still concerned with COVID-19 transmission in all gathering settings, but they’ve been optimistic about water safety.

There will still be special pandemic rules, but Memorial Day in the Mid-South can still include water activities.

Memorial Day weekend is generally considered the unofficial opening for local pools, while residents also flock to lakes to enjoy the holiday.

Luckily, it doesn’t seem COVID-19 can swim.

“There’s been no evidence that the virus is spread through the water,” said Shelby County Health Department Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph said.

But health officials are still worrying about the social distancing and safety protocols outside of the water.            

“There are still expectations about practicing safe distancing and the cleaning,” Randolph said.

According to Shelby County Health Directive No. 4, pools will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity, swimmers should remain six feet apart and the layout of poolside furniture will be modified and cleaned regularly.

Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee are all allowing for pools to open in limited capacity in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Regulations are expected to loosen if COVID-19 rates continue to improve across the summer, but doctors are still warning against overconfidence.

“I think we have to maintain a lot of vigilance because, sure, things could get worse, so we have to be very careful,” Baptist Hospital’s infectious disease expert Dr. Stephen Threlkeld said.

“We will advance again as the data dictates us to do so,” Randolph said.

WREG talked with some local groups who said they’re keeping pools closed, as they’re worried about handling gatherings of people, but they hope to have pools open sooner rather than later.

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