Calvert County playgrounds, basketball courts, and skate-parks will open to the public on Friday June 5th. The most recent surveillance data for our county shows a gradual, sustained decline in local COVID infections since mid-April. This signals a clear decrease in transmission risk as children and teens engage in outdoor activity. By the Governor’s Orders, no more than 10 people may occupy a playground or other recreational area at any given time. Social distancing should continue to be observed to the greatest extent possible.
The Calvert County Health Department has worked with the County Government staff and most importantly, the residents and employers of Calvert to protect the health and safety of our community. We are proud of the decisions we’ve made since the first cases of COVID appeared in early-March. Coupled with the actions taken by individuals and businesses, the number of COVID-related deaths in Calvert has been 10-times less per capita than has been seen in Maryland as a whole. In addition, by limiting the spread of the virus, many other Calvert residents have been spared severe illnesses that may have left them chronically debilitated from lung and kidney damage.
As playgrounds and recreation facilities open, it’s extremely important for parents to keep in mind that COVID-19 is still present in Calvert County. Risks of virus transmission are significantly less than they were 4-6 weeks ago, but they are not gone. Children and teens with any health condition that compromise their immune systems should not be brought to playgrounds or athletic fields. Children and teens who live in a household with elderly relatives or others with underlying chronic health conditions, should also continue to avoid public recreation settings at this time. Hopefully, as the summer progresses, the prevalence of COVID will drop to near zero. At that time, it will be safer for these children to play in public settings. Until then, parents of these children should arrange home play-dates with a small number of their children’s friends who they can verify do not have any ill members of their household.
When playgrounds, fields, and courts reopen, please continue to keep the health of your neighbors in mind. If any member of your household has been ill during the past 14 days, do not bring your children to a public space. When children do come to the playground or athletic field, parents should continue to space themselves more than 6 feet apart. Although transmission of respiratory viruses is less likely outdoors, there is still some risk. Face masks are encouraged for parents and other spectators. Children who are playing should not have face coverings. The potential for heat stroke increases with face coverings. This lack of face covering makes it even more important that children who may be carrying COVID are not brought to public facilities.
The Calvert Health Department staff understand the stress on children as we’ve all tried to balance the direct risks of the virus with the impacts of more social isolation. Most of our staff are parents who are living through this unprecedented crisis along with you. We are very happy to see more opportunities for kids to be kids. The more personal responsibility we all take, the safer it keeps the most vulnerable in our community. We also need to keep in mind that outbreaks of COVID among children during the summer will make it harder for daycares to stay open and may have unwanted consequences as decisions are made about school re-openings in September. Take care, continue to be good neighbors, and enjoy the outdoors!