Are Playdates Okay During COVID-19 Pandemic? (Explanation)

As the COVID-19 Pandemic drags parents want to let their kids hangout with their friends. But is this safe?

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Some experts are taking a hard line, including the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which gives a firm “no.”

Others say the answer isn’t clear-cut. “Everyone wants a binary answer — do this, do that, yes or no,” says John Swartzberg, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. “This is not a binary condition.”

The best answer, Swartzberg says, is highly individual. Factors like whether you’re in an area with lots of virus circulating, whether you live with an older person, or whether you yourself are at high risk of exposure through your job could all change the answer.

Parents ought to ask themselves, “Am I doing my best to keep the spread of this virus from happening?” O’Leary says. “That means changing a lot of behaviors, but not necessarily never leaving your house.”

Some parents have teamed up with another family to create a small circle that interacts, but limits exposure to other people. This imperfect solution also accounts for the fact that we may be in this scenario for a long time. “People can do anything for a short time,” Swartzberg says. But families will struggle to keep their children isolated for a long stretch of time, he says. “On the other hand, if we stop [distancing] too soon, we might as well not have started it.”

For both young children and teenagers, the same principles apply: Small numbers of people are better, outside is better than inside, no one with symptoms should be present, and no face touching (an impossible expectation for young children). And, of course, lots of handwashing.

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic is a pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019.

Disease: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Virus strain: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
First case: December 1, 2019
Origin: Wuhan, Hubei, China
Symptoms: Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.
Incubation period: 1-14 days
Mode of transmission: Human-to-human transmission via respiratory droplets
Prevention tips: Avoiding close contact with sick individuals; frequently washing hands with soap and water; not touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; and practicing good respiratory hygiene
Research: COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19)

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Written by: Laura Sanders & Sujata Gupta

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