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Drowning, not COVID-19, biggest risk in water this Memorial Day weekend, doctor says

So far, 25 children have drowned in Texas this year, according to HelpandHope.org.

HOUSTON — COVID-19 does not spread through water, according to a UTHealth infectious disease specialist.

Dr. Catherine Troisi said on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend that chlorine in pool water can also kill the virus.

“Luckily, that’s one thing you really don’t have to worry about is transmission through the water," Troisi said.

More concerning to Troisi is the physical distancing at places like beaches or public pools.

“It’s going to depend on how crowded places are if you can keep that physical distancing or not," she said.

The city of Houston public pools remain closed. Other community pools are open.

Another big concern for first responders on the unofficial first weekend of summer is drowning.

According to HelpandHope.org, a division of the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, 25 children have drowned in Texas so far in 2020.

“Drownings can happen in an inch of water for a child, and it can happen so quickly," Troisi said.

On May 29, 2020, Deonesia Grays lost her 4-year-old daughter, Bria, when she drowned in a pool at an apartment complex her family was visiting. A parent who was supervising was attending to another child when Bria jumped in. It was her first time swimming, and she did not know how to swim.

“Devastating. Life-changing as well," said Grays. "She was a real girly girl. A ball of energy. A lot of fun. When she passed, I felt like all that was gone."

Now, Grays has dedicated her life to helping low-income families learn about water safety. Her non-profit, Bria's House, uses donations to help pay for swimming lessons and CPR training.

"Constant supervision is extremely important," Grays said.

One of her favorite tips for parents is assigning "water watchers," someone who gives their undivided attention to watching kids in the water. That means not using a cellphone, and limiting alcohol intake. She suggests taking 15 minutes shifts.

"I want these parents to know that I didn’t know this, and because I didn’t know, I lost someone," said Grays. “If you can prevent it, then do it. Do what you have to do to prevent it."

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