Coronavirus concerns: Pinellas County pools allowed to reopen today but some remain closed

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – As of 6 a.m. Thursday, all community pools in Pinellas County were allowed to reopen, but some are choosing not to.

On Tuesday, Pinellas County Commissioners announced the news that cities, condominiums, etc. could reopen.

“We have about 3,000 pools in Pinellas County,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. ” The Pinellas County Sheriff said cities and individual communities can choose to keep their pools closed.

On Thursday morning, 8 On Your Side’s Christine McLarty spoke with workers of St. Pete Parks and Recreation who said North Shore Pool and Aquatic Complex is still closed and they have not received any direction to reopen. On their website, it said they were still shut down to COVID-19.

8 On Your Side reached out to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman asking why he decided to keep that pool closed, we have not yet received an answer to that question. We also spoke with swimmers trying to get into North Shore Pool on Thursday who were frustrated.

“I am training with his help,” said two swimmers trying to train for a triathlon. Renee Litton and John Mrosek were unable to get in.

“The pool got closed because of COVID-19,’ said Mrosek. That’s what the website says but these swimmers are wondering why if the County Commissioners approved all pools to reopen.

“We called City Hall, called the pool…nothing [no response],” said Mrosek. “There’s just so much confusion,” said Litton.

An assisted living facility in St. Pete is also choosing to keep their waterways shut down as an extra precaution to protect the most vulnerable population amongst us.

The Grand Villa of St. Pete said as of now they have no cases of COVID in their facilities and want to keep it that way.

“We’re focused on keeping our residents happy and healthy,” said Grand Villa President John Moschner.

This senior facility said they’re postponing opening the pool as a health precaution for their 130 residents who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. “Unfortunately the pool is a small part of what we’re dealing with and trying to keep everyone safe,” said Moschner.

They don’t have any plans to reopen the pool as of now but said they do take their residents for walks around the pool one by one so they can get outside to enjoy the fresh air.

What danger does the water pose amidst the spread of COVID-19? “If you watched any of the county board of commissioners meeting that question comes up to Dr.Choe, the FL Health Dept. Director,” said Sheriff Gualtieri. “The answers I’ve heard definitively, is we don’t really know,” said Gualtieri.

Here is what the CDC website says about COVID in pools:

“There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”

CDC Website

8 On Your Side spoke with many who said it’s the word should that is making the decision to open pools a difficult one.

For the pools that did open Thursday, there are restrictions. According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the lifting of the pool ban made all public/community pools available at 50 percent, with people on the pool deck following CDC guidelines of staying at least 6 feet apart and can not be in groups larger than 10.

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