Pittsburgh, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Dr. Debra Bogen, Director of the Allegheny County Department of Health, and to discuss recommendations to keep children and their families safe while children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“While the statewide mask guidance has been lifted, it’s important that families feel empowered to take steps to keep ourselves, our children, our friends and family safe. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and they’re our best chance to beat the virus, so all of us who are eligible to be vaccinated should so we can protect our kids,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “We must remain vigilant and continue working together to prevent further spread of COVID-19 between children and families, so I urge everybody to get vaccinated and to follow this guidance so we can continue to celebrate the summer safely.”
“We’re honored to welcome Acting Secretary Snead, Dr. Bogen, and County Executive Fitzgerald,” said Gretchen Baker, Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “Throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our museum has been an ideal place for families to enjoy safe social distancing, and we’re thrilled to see more families resuming their favorite summer activities, like visiting museums. But we all have to remain vigilant. At the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, we’re requesting that unvaccinated visitors wear masks and that anyone experiencing symptoms stay at home and return when they feel better. We’re also maintaining our timed ticketing and cleaning protocols while our buildings remain at 50% capacity. And because most of our summer campers are too young to receive the vaccine, we’re requiring all campers and camp staff to wear masks while indoors and to receive temperature screenings upon arrival. Here at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, we’re committed to providing families with a safe and welcoming environment where they can make lasting connections with nature, science, and one another.”
“As a parent myself, I understand that this is a confusing and frustrating time for parents as they seek information to ensure that their kids are safe. While we know that a large number of parents with young children would get them vaccinated as soon as a shot was approved, we don’t yet know when that may be available,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Kids are still vulnerable until they are eligible for the protection that the vaccines provide. One of the best ways that we can protect our children is to get vaccinated ourselves. Regardless of vaccination status, we need to continue following measures that reduce our risk, like remaining physically distant, washing our hands and cleaning frequently touched surfaces often. And we need to ensure that venues that you visit take your children’s safety just as seriously as the Carnegie Museum does.”
“We all want to protect our children, especially those younger than 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, the Director of the Allegheny County Health Department. “The best way to protect them is for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. We must work together as a community to stop the spread of this virus. We can all do that by following CDC recommendations on masking and other mitigation efforts, and by getting all eligible people vaccinated as soon as possible. If we do, we can regain our sense of safety and normalcy while protecting our children and other at-risk people.”
DHS and its Office of Child Development and Early Learning, or OCDEL, along with the Department of Health, follow guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends that children under the age of 2 should not wear face coverings. Children between the ages of 2 and 12 and older children who are not yet vaccinated, however, are strongly encouraged to continue wearing face coverings in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere indoors when they will be around other people outside of their household.
If a child is unable to wear a face covering, the CDC recommends more low-risk activities, such as enjoying activities outdoors with members of their household or attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends. Risk of COVID-19 infection increases if unvaccinated children gather from multiple households; therefore, the safest place to visit is outdoors. Children with underlying medical conditions, regardless of age, may also be at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 compared to other children, so continued use of face coverings are encouraged to help protect unvaccinated children.
Indoor activities can occur so long as all people involved take safety precautions, including wearing a face covering that fits snuggly, staying distanced from others, and visiting in a well-ventilated space. This includes visiting with fully vaccinated grandparents without wearing face coverings or physical distancing, provided none of the unvaccinated family members are at risk of severe COVID-19.
These precautions, regardless of a child’s age or vaccination status, should be applied along with:
- Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds;
- Making sure your child covers their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing;
- Staying home if you are unvaccinated sick with, tested positive for COVID-19, or were recently (within 14 days) exposed to COVID-19; and,
- Continuing routine doctor appointments and vaccine visits.
Any person, regardless of vaccination status, experiencing new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still needs to isolate and be evaluated for COVID-19. Children 12 or older and adults who have not yet received their COVID-19 vaccine are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones.
More current COVID-19 guidelines information can be found at www.health.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, DHS, firstname.lastname@example.org
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