The problem with the pools isn’t COVID, but not having enough lifeguards, according to CPD spokeswoman Michele Lemons.
“The district is experiencing the impact of the national lifeguard shortage,” Lemons emailed me. “With beaches open and outdoor pools opening June 25th, there are currently not enough lifeguards to also staff all indoor pools.”
The park district will, if a neighborhood demands it, try to reopen a few indoor pools, Lemons said. But to really open, it needs another to 250 trained lifeguards, and it soon will put out a call for more.
That means the those who use the pools for laps will have to put up with big crowds, given the limited number of outdoor pools that allow such swimming. Or try the local YMCA.
COVID is the reason why drinking fountains, which have been shut off for more than a year, will remain turned off, whatever the need for people to keep hydrated in 90-plus degree heat. Lemons said that’s due to “guidance” from city, state and federal health officials, who once feared that lots of hands touching a foundation could spread the illness.
But according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, that’s no longer the case.
“Inside and outdoor drinking fountains can operate in Phase 5,” IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold told me. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention does recommend at least daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces, but does not suggest that taps be turned off.
As for indoor facilities, which often attract large numbers of children, masks “will still be required in our indoor spaces and in crowded outdoor settings or instances where social distancing cannot be maintained,” Lemons said.
On the other hand, capacity at the Garfield Park Conservatory will double, there are no limits on golfing at park district courses and the agency hopes to soon open all of its rest rooms from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. No word on weekends.