‘It’s not worth the playdates’

June 25, 2020
an empty tire swing hangs in front of a deserted play structure
Playgrounds closed during the shutdown to discourage close contact. Photo by Sarah Pack

Hard on the heels of news that children may be less likely to catch or pass on COVID-19 comes news that Texas is reimposing emergency rules on daycare centers after an increase in COVID-19 cases among children there. 

The ping-ponging news leaves parents struggling to figure out the right course for their families. So far, cases among children in South Carolina remain low. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reports that 3% of cases are in children under age 10 and 11% of cases are in young people aged 11 to 20. 

Elizabeth Mack, M.D., chief of Pediatric Critical Care at MUSC Children’s Health, said there are still many unknowns about COVID-19 in children. Of those who do become ill, most children thankfully have milder cases, she said, and few pediatric COVID-19 patients in South Carolina have had to be hospitalized. Nonetheless, she said that now is the time, while school is out of session, for parents to continue social distancing.

“Probably the best thing for us to do right now is be diligent about social distancing where we can, really modifying our lifestyles to the point where it’s fairly inconvenient and uncomfortable right now in order for long-term gains,” she said.

School remains a question mark. Charleston County School District superintendent Gerrita Postlewait, on Wednesday, said scheduling the start of school – as well as determining whether in-person classes resume at all – will depend on the rate of spread in Charleston County. Meanwhile, MUSC reported the seven-day average growth rate of new cases is 8.3%, up from 5.3% the week before and 3.6% the week before that.

Mack said it’s hard to give parents a definitive answer about things like child care.

“How do we practically get through life? I don’t have any great answers. I do know young children are not likely to follow the rules, wear masks, socially distance, all that kind of thing. They are kids after all. But adults make decisions that impact us all and there are some decisions we can make that will keep us all safer for now,” she said.

Instead, she reiterated the importance of following the guidance from doctors and public health officials to social distance as much as possible.

“It's not worth the playdates. It's not worth the parties. It’s not worth it because ‘we’re stir crazy,’” she said.