Unlock the Damned Playgrounds, Already
“While much else” in California “has been allowed to gradually reopen—bars, restaurants, gyms, the zoo, even museums,” KPBS San Diego reported earlier this month, “playgrounds appear to be closed indefinitely.”
Young kids contract, suffer from, and transmit Covid-19 at significantly lower rates than adults. Their mental health during the pandemic has taken “a serious hit,” studies keep showing (and personal experience keeps reaffirming), due to the social isolation and familial cabin fever. High among the most coronavirus-safe activities children can engage in with people outside their immediate family is playing outdoors.
Nevertheless, politicians persist in wrapping police tape around facilities where kids might find some relief. Worse yet, in some misgoverned jurisdictions there are no stated criteria for letting them play.
“There is little mention of playgrounds in the most updated Guidance Documents from the California Department of Public Health, which indicate playgrounds should be closed,” wrote State Sen. Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) in a Sept. 16 letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Golden State’s reopening plan, she wrote, “does not appear to include any reference to under what tier playgrounds or sport amenities in public parks may reopen, leaving cities, counties, and families confused.”
Newsom, who like his New York counterpart Andrew Cuomo loves to dress up his questionable policies in the pompous robes of “science” (recent example, in the service of his plan to ban fracking and gas-powered automobiles: “We need to reconcile that fact that there are no Democratic thermometers and no Republican thermometers. There is fact and there’s reality as well as observed evidence. It’s not a belief system, it’s an acknowledgment: the facts are the facts”), has not only failed to answer Gonazalez’s simple request, but his agencies also keep issuing crackpot justifications for its sandbox lockdowns.
Playgrounds are closed, an unnamed California Department of Health spokesman told KPBS, in part because of “the possible large number of individuals touching the same surface, particularly younger children who are less likely to practice hand hygiene and wear masks consistently.”
In other words, children are being punished for California bureaucrats’ failure to keep up with the science, which by July was definitive: Covid-19 is just not being spread on surfaces. That hasn’t stopped the state from issuing The Boy in the Plastic Bubble-like restrictions on sharing equipment and airspace for
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