Is it safe to swim in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams?

There are a number of common illnesses that people can catch from recreational swimming. But there’s good news: COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be one of them. So even if someone with COVID is swimming in the same body of water, you should be fine. This even applies to water that’s not chemically treated, or doesn’t contain salt, like freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. You can wash your hands when you come out of the water, just to be sure.

So take the usual COVID precautions: avoid large, dense crowds, even outside. Wear a face covering. Practice good hand hygiene. And also take the usual swimming precautions! Don’t go in the water if you’re sick, and don’t swallow the water. But don’t let COVID keep you from your favorite freshwater watering hole.


Last update: August 14, 2020, 1:50 pm ET

Science review: ERS