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Is it safe to see friends? Should children have play dates? COVID-19 expert shares advice

Dr. Preeti Malani recommends balancing socializing with safe COVID-19 practices

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – As Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opens more of the state, many people are wondering if it’s safe to see their friends or have play dates for children.

Local 4 spoke with a doctor from University of Michigan Hospital about her advice for navigating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the state continues to reopen.

READ: Here’s everything that has reopened across entire state of Michigan as of today

“We are all longing to be with our friends,” Dr. Preeti Malani said. “We want to be with other people, and we should. It’s important for our health and well-being, but we have to do it in a safe and thoughtful way.”

Malani is U of M’s chief health officer and infectious disease expert. She said less is more when it comes to gatherings of friends.

“Keeping those contact groups smaller is going to be better in terms of your overall risk,” Malani said. “It won’t eliminate your risk, but it’ll actually keep it where it’s manageable.”

She recommends keeping gatherings small and trying to be outside as much as possible. Maintain social distancing, and if you’re inside, wear a mask.

UPDATE -- June 8, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 58,999; Death toll now at 5,673

Malani said to make sure nobody is sick before you see them. Limit the number of people you see overall.

“(Have) a few friends that you know are doing a good job of socially distancing in other aspects of their life,” Malani said.

The same concepts apply to play dates for children, although Malani acknowledges it’s tougher for children to socially distance.

“To keep kids apart from their friends has other negative effects, and all of this is balancing the risk of COVID-19 versus the risk of other things, including just emotional well-being,” Malani said. “Your kids need to be with other kids. Adults need to be with other adults. We can all do our part and engage in a responsible way so that we can have that kind of interaction that we’re missing right now, but to do so in a safe way.”

Malani said if you can create a social bubble of a few friends who are basically only socializing with each other, that will help reduce the risk for everyone. It will also make contact tracing easier if someone does get sick.


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