COVID-19 alters approach to staying cool during warm stretch


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Local health officials have found themselves in a quandary. As a stretch of warm weather approaches the region, they will be forced to balance promoting traditional methods of staying cool with adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Pools and splash pads in the City of Portland have been shut down for the rest of the summer and won’t be back open until at least September. For people with limited ways of staying cool during the hot summer months, the closures have health officials scrambling for solutions.

Portland Parks & Recreation COVID-19 Closures and Postponements

For the time being, agencies are slowly rolling out alternative recommendations for days spent at a public pool. Dr. Jennifer Vines with Multnomah County Health said simple things like taking a cold shower can go a long way.

“As we move into warmer weather with COVID-19, we will be adjusting our response knowing that people use [pools] to cool down on a hot day,” said Vines. “We will be balancing needing to provide an outlet for people to cool off and also minimizing the risk of COVID 19 transmission.”

Some of the other advice Vines offered for enduring hot days were:

  1. Making a cool pack by putting a wet wash cloth in the freezer
  2. Staying hydrated
  3. Keeping an eye on children and the elderly who are especially vulnerable to heat exhaustion and heat illness
  4. Exercise or schedule other outdoor activities for cooler hours of the day (i.e. earlier in the morning, later in the evening)

In previous years, cooling centers would not be available until temperatures exceed 95 degrees for two or more consecutive days. However, if current social distancing guidelines are still in place, it is unknown if cooling centers will be open at all.

“These hot days have really prompted us to look at how we’ve responded to hot weather in the past and start to think about how we can respond appropriately this summer,” said Vines. “[We’re] realizing we are in different circumstances than we have been in other years.”

Full statement from Portland Parks & Recreation:

The community pools and splash pads that Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) manage typically open around mid-June to coincide with the end of school but will unfortunately not open at all this summer.  PP&R’s funding structure relies on fees, but because PP&R closed pools and community centers to diminish the spread of COVID-19 in the spring, the bureau has not been able to earn fees from things like swim lessons and exercise classes.  Due to COVID-19 closures, all PP&R pools, community centers, and summer recreation programs must remain closed and canceled this summer.  PP&R knows that  a lost summer of recreation will be hard for our community, the bureau and its staff are disappointed that we won’t be able to serve our community in traditional ways this summer. For more information about what is open and closed, and how to access your parks system safely, visit PP&R

Things people can do to stay cool:

• If you have a front or back yard, or a common area in a larger housing complex, people can use sprinklers to keep cool;

• If you don’t have a yard, find a shady spot at your local park where you can maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from non-household members

• Play with hoses or misters

• Drink a lot of water

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