In this episode of the #AskASwimPro Show, we interviewed Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health about the novel coronavirus, how to practice social distancing, the importance of “flattening the curve” and how swimmers can stay safe.

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Dr. Thomas explained that many of us have had a coronavirus before, but that COVID-19 is more contagious. COVID-19 has a mortality rate of 3.5%, compared to the seasonal flu’s mortality rate of 0.1%, he says.

Related: What Swimmers Should Know About the Coronavirus

How Does Coronavirus Spread?


The virus spreads through coughing and inhaling someone else’s respiratory droplets. Due to this, Dr. Thomas explained that it isn’t wise to fly right now, since airplanes place you in close proximity to others.

He also noted that COVID-19 can live on surfaces for up to 3 days:

  • Stainless steel and plastic: 3 days
  • Cardboard and paper products: 24 hours
  • Copper: 4 hours

Social Distancing

Social distancing involves staying 6 feet away from others when you are outside, and avoiding contact with others while at home. You risk transmission any time you talk, shake hands or spend time around others. Dr. Thomas recommends that people avoid gathering with others and stay home in “self-quarantine,” noting that in cultures where it is common to kiss each other on the cheek or shake hands, COVID-19 can spread very quickly.

If you get COVID-19, you will be quarantined for at least 14 days, Dr. Thomas said. However, researchers have mentioned that you may be able to infect others for up to 20 days after showing symptoms.

Flattening the Curve

The healthcare system in the United States can only manage so many patients at one time, Dr. Thomas said. By practicing social distancing, we can “flatten the curve,” reducing the number of COVID-19 cases at a given time and keeping healthcare providers within their capacity. If we don’t do this, Dr. Thomas noted that the U.S. healthcare system will be unable to effectively care for patients.

Tips to Stay Safe

Dr. Thomas shared tips to stay safe and healthy:

  • Wash your hands: Before you prepare food, after going to the bathroom and before touching your face.
  • If you have a cough or a low grade fever (99 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit): Stay home, drink lots of fluids, take Tylenol and get some rest. You likely are not sick enough to benefit from a doctor’s treatment. Save the hospital beds — and the healthcare providers’ time — for those who are sickest!
  • If you have severe symptoms, such as a high fever and trouble breathing: Go to the hospital.

What About Swimming Pools?

According to Dr. Thomas, properly chlorinated swimming pools are perfectly clean and won’t carry the virus or other bacteria. The issue, however, lies in getting to and from the pool. If you have to take public transportation or interact with others at the pool and in the locker room, you could get sick.

Dr. Thomas recommends getting outside for a walk or a run instead of swimming. If you have a swimming-related injury, now could be a great time to work on stretching and strengthening those muscles. See how fit you can get at home!

Related: How Swimmers Can Work Out Without a Pool

Open water

If the weather where you live is warm, Dr. Thomas says open water swimming is safe, as long as you are away from people.

Related: Join Us For Live Dryland Workouts!

This may feel like a huge sacrifice, but it’s necessary for the greater good of public health. Stay positive, make the most of your situation and stay safe!


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