As of early November, Governor Tim Walz is taking new steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 as case counts surge in the state. The targeted measures are aimed at places where the virus is spreading among young people, those ages 18 to 35 years old, who are often asymptomatic and spread the virus without knowing. Find the new COVID-19 safety measures on the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) website.
It’s important people remember the three W’s: Wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.
Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, talked with WCCO about what the new safety measures mean for families.
What is causing a rise in COVID-19 cases?
COVID-19 has been around for long enough that there is fatigue surrounding the pandemic, which can cause people to become lax when it comes to COVID-19 precautions.
“Though people are doing a remarkable job at wearing their masks, they’re forgetting the other elements that are just as critical in preventing the spread to happen,” said Dr. Chawla. Since the weather has turned colder, we must remember that both mask wearing and 6-foot distancing indoors is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
During the Governor’s press conference on Nov. 10, 2020, it was mentioned, according to state health officials over 70 percent of COVID-19 outbreaks in our state from June to November have a direct link back to weddings, private social gatherings, and late nights at bars and restaurants.
When people gather at bars, restaurants or other social places, they start to feel comfortable and may lose their vigilance over time – their mask might come off or they might get too close to one another.
Why is the increase in cases among young adults?
Symptomatic versus asymptomatic
“The challenge is, they [young adults 18-35] might be right in that they aren’t experiencing some of those symptoms. So, they’re not connecting the dots yet on how that impacts the rest of the community,” Dr. Chawla said.
This is one of the hard parts of COVID-19 – if someone is asymptomatic and does not get tested, they can unknowingly spread the disease to others who might be at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, such as family, friends or coworkers.
Keeping your bubble safe
Dr. Chawla explains the issues with young adults’ bubbles this way: “People are really clear about who is in their bubble. But they’re not really clear about the people in their bubble and what other bubbles they belong to.” This means that just because someone is in your bubble does not mean they belong to other bubbles with other people too.
“Those little bubbles tend to spread and suddenly you can see much more community spread,” Dr. Chawla said.
What can parents do to help young adults stay safe from COVID-19?
It’s important for parents to check-in on their young-adult children to make sure they are staying safe. At the same time, it’s also important for parents to remember how difficult this is for young adults, who are at the point of trying to become independent and discover their place and path in life.
These restrictions don’t just restrict their socialization, but also can be perceived as restricting their normal development. This may create a mental health impact for them. Some ideas for conversations and talking points:
- Ask about their social life: Check in and ask what they’ve been up to socially. How are they keeping in touch with friends? What type of situations are they typically in, and how often?
- Ask if they’re following COVID-19 guidelines: Ask if they’re following COVID-19 guidelines like, if they’re wearing a mask, washing their hands, staying socially distanced from others and avoiding large gatherings?
- Ask about their interactions: Ask if they’ve had any close interactions with others – have they been tested since? How often? When was their last test?
- Ask how the changes impact them and what you can do to help: Be the resource they need, a listening ear, reflect hope that this will come to an end if we all play our part and help them get connected to mental health professionals if they need it.
What are the COVID-19 recommendations when it comes to the upcoming holiday season?
Holiday gatherings typically contribute to the spread of the flu and could have the same effect on COVID-19. Typically holiday gatherings involve extended family members of all ages – some of who may be at a higher risk for COVID-19 and the dangerous symptoms, could be from all parts of the country and could include friends and neighbors.
In order to keep our community and families healthy, holiday gatherings will need to look different this year. “We like so much to celebrate with all of our family and friends, but keeping it a more intimate group so you’re really quite clear that you’re not spreading it and contributing to that – that’s going to be really, really important,” Dr. Chawla said.
It’s recommended people get tested before a holiday gathering to make sure they aren’t going to spread COVID-19, even if they don’t think they have it – many people can be asymptomatic.
If someone in your family tests positive for COVID-19, we urge you to consider virtual celebrations. These will allow you to connect with your family while staying safe.