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Summer Pandemic Questions Answered by Dr. Tyner

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Are you wondering how to have a safe summer in the Twin Ports during the pandemic? Below are answers to some common questions about how to stay safe from COVID-19 during the summertime.

Can the virus be spread through food?
Currently there is no evidence that COVID-19 transmission is associated with food.

Can heat from a sauna or hot weather kill the virus?
The virus is destroyed at approximately 133° F. For those of you who like to sauna, remember that the inside of your body doesn’t get to that temperature. As far as weather goes, COVID-19 can be transmitted in all climates and temperatures from what we’ve seen.

Can mosquitos carry the infection?
Thankfully, that answer is certainly not.

Should I use soap and water or hand sanitizer?
Soap and water are better than hand sanitizer. If you don’t have access to soap and water, then use hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

How effective are cloth masks?
Very effective! Keep in mind that wearing a cloth mask isn’t really to keep germs out, it’s to keep your germs in. Your mask is protecting everyone from you. It’s like a catcher’s mitt for your face. This precaution is the most effective when everyone participates.

When should you wear a face mask?
You should wear a mask or a cloth face covering when you are in the company of people who do not share your address. COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected, so this is important. Even if you are more than 6 feet away, the best system is to stay both 6 feet away AND wear a mask. This includes when you are in places when you can reasonably expect to be near people who do not share your address. This includes being at stores, gas stations, church services, and your doctor’s office. It also applies to being at backyard barbecues, walking on the Lakewalk or in Canal Park or being at a park.

Are children at risk from COVID-19 and should they wear masks?
Kids do not seem to be at higher risk of infection than adults. A few have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), though we don’t know very much about it. The CDC recommends that everyone age 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth. Masks should not be put on babies or children younger than age 2.

Can my child hang out with their friends?
The CDC recommends not allowing your child to play with friends. The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to practice social distancing.

Is it okay to send my kids to day camps/summer camps?

Minnesota and the CDC have asked every camp to have a plan for a safe environment, and what is possible will likely look different from camp to camp. A general recommendation is to pursue virtual gatherings when possible. Take into consideration if you child is well enough to attend and do not send them if they are sick or at high risk of becoming very sick, or if there is someone in your household who could get very sick if your child returns sick.

Is it safe to bring my kids to a playground?
Any shared space has higher infection risk. Even if there isn’t COVID-19, parks and items that are frequently touched by different people (gas pumps, door handles, hand rails, etc.) all have germs on them, some of which can make you sick. Just like any other surface, surfaces at parks will have germs on them and it’s not possible to sanitize them. So, standard suggestions apply: if you are sick, stay home. If you are around other people or crowds, wear a cloth face cover, and wash your hands with soap and water (use hand sanitizer if you don’t have soap and water). If you have family members who are at uniquely high risk or children who are higher risk, consider bringing your children to alternative places to play.

Is it safe to go to a pool or lake?
We are currently in Phase III of the “Stay Safe Minnesota” plan which suggests that pools may be used with maintaining 6 feet between individuals and be at no more than 50% of capacity.

Is it ok to go to places like the zoo or the aquarium?
In order to open, gathering places have been asked to have a plan for keeping their supporters safe. They will have clearly posted signs, please follow the rules carefully!

Can we camp with our friends?
Yes, outdoor social gatherings of up to 25 people are considered ok. However, it is still recommended that if you are around people who do not live at your address wear facemasks and stay 6 feet apart. Minnesota recommendations suggest staying close to home (helping limit cross-state and cross-county travel and thereby spread of virus).

Is travel okay?
Yes, but it might look different. Minnesota recommendations suggest staying close to home (helping limit cross-state and cross-county travel and thereby spread of virus).The CDC has made recommendations about travel, and it’s hard to lump all travel into one question. Here are a few things to think through:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going?
  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community? You don’t want to be a spreader!
  • What are the risk factors of the people you are traveling with?
  • Does the state or local government where you live or at your destination require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling?
  • If you get sick, will you have to miss work or school?

Airports are encouraging masks and social distancing and airlines are asking for masks on airplanes and for spread-out seating. Hotels may be harder to book, so be sure to plan ahead.

Additional Coronavirus (COVID-19) information:

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC): cdc.gov/COVID19
  • The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH): health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus
  • St. Louis County: stlouiscountymn.gov
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