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Water Stagnant During Shutdown Presents Risk for Reopening Businesses

photo of a water fountain
Bacteria like Legionella can grow when water is stagnant, as it has been in many businesses that have been closed due to the pandemic.

As Ohio businesses begin to reopen, the coronavirus may not be the only illness they’ll need to be concerned about. Health officials are advising them to take steps to avoid the spread of Legionnaire’s disease.

The problem comes from bacterial growth in water left standing in pipes, and that could be the case for businesses that had to close because of the pandemic.  Brent Rollins with the Summit County Public Health department says water that stagnates for over one month creates prime conditions for the growth of harmful bacteria like Legionella. 

“When the water fluctuates or the weather fluctuates, especially March and April it can get up to 60 degrees, that’s potentially [when] Legionella can grow. So before you kick those on they should scrub those, clean those and this is a practice they should do every year not just because of COVID-19.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory illness that can have serious complications if not treated quickly. Symptoms can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle ache, and headaches.

Rollins also recommends business owners reach out to other essential businesses for advice on how they have kept their employees safe and healthy.

Full guidance from Summit County Public Health is below: