Protect-Kids-From-COVID-July-4
Image via AP Photo/Nati Harnik

This Fourth of July promises to be strikingly different from previous years. Here’s how to protect your kids from COVID this holiday weekend.

Observing a three-day holiday weekend amid a pandemic may feel like there’s not much to celebrate. But whether you’re staying indoors or commemorating the Fourth of July with others, taking care of the children feels more important than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidelines on how to stay safe while ensuring kids remain protected against COVID. 

On Monday, the CDC also released new guidelines that exclude age as a risk factor, which means children are not exempt from getting sick with the coronavirus.

Related: Pregnant Women Are Added in COVID-19 Risk Groups

Here’s How the CDC Is Determining the Risk Factor at Events and Gatherings. 

It’s essential first to find out how many people will be congregating in a particular area. The CDC advises that the more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading. This is what you can do to stay safe:

  • Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.
  • More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
  • Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.
  • Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.

Here are the guidelines to protect children from staying protected against COVID-19. 

  • Clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid people who are sick (coughing and sneezing).
  • Put distance between your children and other people outside of your home. Keep children at least 6 feet from other people.
  • Children 2 years and older should wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in public settings where it’s difficult to practice social distancing. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) the other everyday preventive actions listed above.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in shared household areas. 
  • Launder items, including washable plush toys as needed.

The CDC also reports that adults should limit the time children spend with other kids. Also, while some people will use the excuse that wearing a mask is not safe, those myths have been widely debunked. Some will even say it is too hot to be wearing a mask. However, experts say a mask does not limit the intake of oxygen.

Related: More than 7,000 Children in Florida Have Tested Positive for COVID-19

When it’s humid outside, it could feel like it’s harder to breathe if you’re not used to wearing a mask, said Benjamin Neuman, a professor of biology at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. But he noted masks don’t meaningfully decrease oxygen in the body.

“The body is quite good at adjusting to keep oxygen levels where they need to be,” he said.

According to Davidson Hamer, an infectious disease expert at Boston University, there’s also no evidence that the use of masks causes fungal or bacterial infections. Disposable face masks are meant to be used once, then thrown in the garbage. With cloth masks, it’s a good idea to wash them regularly.

Wearing a mask may be uncomfortable, but health officials say you should resist any urge to touch your face. That could bring germs from your hands into your nose, mouth, or eyes. Click here for more information on how to stay safe and healthy during the holiday weekend. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.