Updated CDC guidance on closing and reopening aquatic facilities
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have updated two guidance documents on closing and reopening aquatic facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first CDC guidance — Extended Hot Tub/Spa Closures — concerns the closing of hot tubs and spas for extended periods of time. The guidance has been updated to address feedback from the aquatics sector related to hot tubs and spas with a plastered finish, which could end up cracking if drained for a prolonged period of time.
Hot tubs/spas with plastered finish
- Clean accessible surfaces, scrubbing away slime and biofilm.
- Apply a biocidal shock treatment.
- Drain and remove water from the system.
- For hot tubs/spas with cartridge filters, remove, clean, and replace filter elements, as recommended by manufacturer.
- Shut down hot tub/spa, following manufacturer recommendations. This includes but is not limited to removing and storing probes.
- Refill hot tub/spa with cool or cold water from potable water source.
- Continue to discourage use of refilled hot tub/spa with appropriate signage, barriers, or approved covers as described in CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code (element 18.104.22.168.3).
The second CDC guidance — Guidance for Building Water Systems — provides updated recommendations on reopening hot tubs, spas and other water systems to clarify that not every public hot tub and spa needs to be tested for Legionella before reopening.
Summary of changes: Updated hot tub/spa disinfection guidance (Step 5c)
Stagnant, or standing water can cause conditions that increase the risk for growth and spread of Legionella and other biofilm-associated bacteria. When water is stagnant, hot water temperatures can decrease to the Legionella growth range (77–108°F, 25–42°C). Stagnant water can also lead to low or undetectable levels of disinfectant, such as chlorine. Ensure that your water system is safe to use after a prolonged shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
5. Ensure hot tubs/spas are safe for use
a. Check for existing guidelines from your local or state regulatory agency before use.
b. Ensure that hot tubs/spas are free of visible slime or biofilm before filling with water.
c. Perform a hot tub/spa disinfection procedure before use.
i. CDC Guidance (follow Steps 4–9 and 12–13): https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/downloads/hot-tub-disinfection.pdf
ii. Facilities may decide to test the hot tub/spa for Legionella before returning to service if previous device maintenance logs, bacterial testing results, or associated cases of Legionnaires’ disease indicate an elevated level of risk to occupants. All Legionella testing decisions should be made in consultation with facility water management program staff along with relevant public health authorities.