July 6, 2022
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Why Denver’s Public Pools Remain Closed — For Now

5 min read

There’s a reason why many Denver residents are already getting excited about returning to the water. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that swimming is the fourth-most popular sports activity in the country, and as Colorado is known for its notoriously hot, dry summers returning to the water is one of the only options a lot of people have if they want to be comfortable. However, many lack their own private pools, and while natural watering holes are available in the surrounding areas, most city-goers prefer the convenience of public pools. Normally, public pools in Denver open on a sliding scale, depending on either on the temperatures or set seasons. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown their schedules into flex.

When the pandemic first began, the closure of public pools was something of a non-issue. Most closures started in March and April, when a lot of pools would be closed anyway. As the various state-wide shutdowns have extended into the summer, these closures have become somewhat more problematic. Some Denver residents are reliant on public pools for more than just a cooldown or simple entertainment. There are a number of reasons why these closures are something of a disruption for the city. Nonetheless, a disruption doesn’t necessarily constitute simply opening up public pools. Even after they’re reopened, many may question whether or not these pools are actually safe to visit.

Why Should These Pools Reopen?

Initially, some may dismiss the calls to reopen public pools outright. Some health officials have argued for the closure of such non-essential gathering places until a COVID-19 vaccine has been put in place. Denver’s public pools may seem to be extremely non-essential. While the pools do offer some employment opportunities and may generate revenue through memberships, public pools are not big businesses and do not affect Denver’s economy on a massive scale. For the most part, it’s true that a lot of people visit the public pools for purely recreational purposes. But there is more to Denver public pools than what meets the eye, which is why some are calling for the reopening of these locations.

Public pools are often used by those recovering from injuries or suffering from chronic illnesses. Swimming has long been essential to a number of different rehabilitation programs. While those in the midst of guided rehabilitation programs may be able to swim at their private rehab facilities, a lot of people rely on public pools to continue their rehab on their own. As 87% of Americans have painful feet at one point or the other, public pools are no doubt key to the comfort of a lot of people in Denver.

Another reason why some advocates are calling for the reopening of the pools is that swimming lessons cannot take place without open public pools. Many Denver residents, and in particular children, are being left without a safe place where they can be taught to swim by professional, trained instructors. Yes, they could potentially be taught at home, but this is not the safest option. As a private residential pool is one of the most dangerous places for children, it’s important that kids are taught how to swim in a safe, supervised setting. Until public pools are reopened, these settings will not be an option for children or adults. For that matter, those proponents of pools reopening argue that it can be done safely, should locations be properly policed in order to ensure that they don’t become overloaded with pool-goers. However, the question of whether or not this is practically popular remains.

Is It Healthy For Pools To Reopen Now?

Regardless of whether or not there is a need for Denver public pools to reopen, the fact remains that COVID-19 is still a danger and a pressing issue. The pandemic will likely remain a presence in this country until a vaccine is released and dispersed amongst the populace. Therefore, the need for pools to reopen must be weighed against the danger present.

Early tests have shown that chlorine does deactivate the virus, which would theoretically make the public pools somewhat safer. However, this deactivation becomes less effective due to the presence of contaminants in the pool itself, like urine, deodorant, and other substances that are unfortunate realities of public pools. As with many things relating to the virus, it’s simply difficult to determine to what extent public pools are safe on a chemical level. It is certainly difficult to enforce social distancing, which is key to preventing the spread of the virus, in a public pool. Furthermore, even if an individual was safe in the water, there would still be the threat of spreading the virus around the pool. This is why Water World has elected to remain closed for its 2020 season, while Elitch Gardens has postponed its opening date.

It’s important for Denver residents to look to examples when making decisions about what to do regarding their own safety. A recent Arkansas pool party has resulted in several people contracting COVID-19, which means that the virus certainly can spread in the midst of pool gatherings. If it can occur in Arkansas, it can certainly occur in Denver.

What Can Denver Residents Do If The Pools Remain Closed?

Ultimately, the public pools may very well remain closed throughout the summer, depending on how Denver’s individual situation remains in regard to the virus. While rivers and lake remain options, provided they aren’t closed, Denver residents should remember that if they arrive in an area and see a large amount of crowding, they may be better off making the difficult decision to turn around and go home. Cooling off is not worth risking your health or that of others, and Colorado’s law enforcement has been advised to ensure that closed beaches remain clear.

In some cases, it may be a simple waiting game. Pirate’s Cove in Englewood is seeking a June reopening and may serve as something of a test subject as its employees have been trained to wear masks and employ new sanitation techniques. If Denver residents remain patient and prioritize their health and that of others, the virus will hopefully remain controlled, and public pools will reopen in time.

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