As the stay at home orders are changing, many of us – adults and kids alike – are ready to leave our nests. But is it safe?
Here in Ohio we have successfully flattened the curve. However, as Stay at Home Orders are lifted, Covid-19 continues to spread. Thus, as we venture out, our personal risk of infection increases. That risk is based on two major factors: (1) the number of viral particles we are exposed to and (2) the duration of time of such exposure. We should base our decisions on that risk and our own personal situation. Do you have a member in your household with a chronic medical condition? Someone 65 years or older? Other risk factors?
There is no one right answer for all, but with a better understanding we can make the best decision for our own family.
What about play dates?
Outside is better than inside. When we are outside, viral particles are quickly swept away by any breeze, limiting the viral load and the time of exposure, thus decreasing the risk of infection.
Physical distance still matters. We don’t know for sure how children spread the virus, but we know there are asymptomatic carriers, people that can infect others while not having symptoms themselves. We don’t know how many kids fall into this category. However, here in Ohio we have proven that physical distancing slows the spread of the virus.
Make it small groups. Everyone talks about groups of 10 or less. There is nothing magic about the number 10. Having fewer people in a group makes it less likely that one person is infected and thus spreads the virus. For your kids’ play dates I recommend that you keep it to members of a few households that have similar quarantining habits as your family.
Keep the activity short. This obviously decreases the exposure and let’s face it, as play dates progress children will be less likely to follow all the rules including the rule to keep their distance.
Choose the activity wisely. It is easier to physically distance if you are going on a walk or ride bikes together. Sitting and chatting, having a picnic lunch “together” with each family bringing their own lunch and sitting on their own blanket or towel. Don’t share food or snacks. Maybe kick a ball, play tennis or golf. Supervision will be needed because we all have been cooped up and are social animals. The younger your children, clearly, the more supervision is needed. But keep in mind, adolescents often feel invincible and then common sense goes out the window. No sleepovers yet.
Make sure your child is well. I have seen more strep throat during quarantine than I ever imagined. So if your child shows any sign of illness, postpone. There is always another day.
Should kids wear masks? Masks are only needed when social distancing is not possible – you just have to make it possible. Kids do not need to wear masks if they are playing outside and socially distancing. Of course, kids under age 2 should never wear a mask.
Wash your hands.If hand washing is not an option before, during, and after the activity, bring hand sanitizer and wash your and your children’s hands as soon as you get home.
Timing is everything. We know it takes 3-14 days to develop symptoms. You should not have play dates with different groups of friends too frequently. You just increase the number of exposures and thus, increase everyone’s risk. Slowly increase your circle of contacts and allow time between visits.
Rules will change. Please follow recommendations of our local public health officials. As we loosen stay at home orders, the number of Covid-19 cases will most likely increase. Our health officials will monitor the situation closely and we should all follow their recommendations. That leads me to one more.
Make sure to keep your children well. Childhood vaccinations are your best bet to keep your children well. If your child is behind in immunizations or if you are not sure, please contact us right now. If you have questions pertaining to your specific situation, we will gladly discuss these with you. We want what is best for your child and family.
We are available for your needs 24×7 by phone at 513-232-8100. You may also continue to schedule appointments online by clicking HERE
Petra Hackenberg-Bauer, MD