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Infectious disease doctor: 'If you’re going into a restroom at that water park, you better have a clean, dry mask'

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist at Florida International University warns against getting close too people at water parks.

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — After three employees tested positive for the coronavirus at Metro Lagoons in Wesley Chapel, management decided to close Thursday and test every single worker.

RELATED: Metro Lagoon employees test positive for coronavirus

As of the time of this article, they plan to open on Friday but explained that could change depending on the results of their employees.

Metro Lagoons is a seven-acre lagoon built in the middle of the Epperson Community. Guests can swim, kayak, paddle board, along with many other water attractions such as slides and obstacle courses.

The outbreak at Metro Lagoons prompted us to get the facts about the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission at water parks especially because mask wearing is limited.

Dr. Aileen M. Marty, an infectious disease specialist at Florida International University explained the water itself is not the problem but people's behaviors create the biggest risk factor.

"Let’s say you’re going down a slide at water park and the person that slid in front of you is positive, right? Well you want not to have been within six feet of that person before they got on the slide. Now the good news is while you’re going down that water slide, you’re encountering chlorinated water so I’m not too worried about the touch places."

RELATED: New drive-thru COVID-19 testing site launches at Tropicana Field, fills up quickly on first day

RELATED: Need a mask? Tampa is offering them for free

In other words, Marty is worried about you standing too close to people while you wait in line not when you come in contact with attractions or the water itself. The chemicals such as chlorine will typically kill the coronavirus.

The CDC has an entire page dedicated to best practices at pools and water playgrounds including wearing a mask when you can't be socially distant but NOT when you're in the water. 

Marty says you especially need that mask when you go indoors.

"If you’re going into a restroom at that water park, a public restroom, you better have a clean, dry mask because there are real risks to using a public bathroom where somebody just flushed and what they flushed was positive for virus," she said.

10 Tampa Bay reached out to water parks in the area. A spokesperson with Adventure Island sent us this statement:

Adventure Island opened June 11, and we remain committed to the health and safety of our guests and employees. In addition to temperature screening and enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices, our face covering and physical distance requirements are posted with clear and frequent signage throughout the park. We are excited to provide our guests with fun, inspiring and memorable experiences like our all-new family raft slide, Solar Vortex, while addressing important health and safety needs during this time.

They also launched a safety page on their website including a full FAQ.

Metro Lagoons sent a letter to residents that said in part:

All staff members will undergo rapid-response COVID testing tomorrow, with a testing company we’ve hired expressly for this purpose. Employees must show a negative test result before they’ll be allowed to return to work when the Lagoon reopens.

All employees get their temperatures checked before they come into work, and employees are encouraged to stay home if they feel sick. If an employee shows symptoms, we require they get tested before returning to work. And while employees are at work, they are making sure they follow the Lagoon’s county-approved social distancing plan.

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