Playgrounds pose threat as COVID-19 cases soar


HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Summertime means getting outdoors and running around the parks with your kids.

Playgrounds opened back up across the Mountain State two weeks ago, and folks are out and about having summer fun. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic resurging, caution even out-of-doors is imperative.

Brenda Majorowski, one of the people out at the Ritter Park Playground on Tuesday, says the appeal of the park is it is less crowded during the week.

“I feel safe that there are obviously not a lot of people here. If there were a lot of people–that’s why we didn’t come on the weekendI wouldn’t be here,” Majorowski said.

Playgrounds like the one at Ritter Park shed their caution tape a few weeks ago. Now, families and young children are congregating around them as safe alternatives.

But during a pandemic, how safe are these places anyway?

Mary Ann Haldeman, maintenance superintendent of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, says it’s really a play-at-your-own-risk situation.

“We actually haven’t done anything. We think that sunlight and the U.V. light is the best thing for our playgrounds,” Haldeman said, meaning these grounds are not sanitized or monitored by the city.

Despite being months into this pandemic, it is still unknown exactly how long this virus can exist on outdoor surfaces, like a playground.

According to Harvard health data, the virus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

On top of that, it is still unknown how exactly exposure to things like sunlight, heat and cold affect these survival times.

“We are not doing anything extra or special for our playgrounds. We just are asking you to wash your hands. Frequently.”

Mary Ann Haldeman, maintenance superintendent

That’s advice Amy Wolfe, another park patron, is taking to heart.

“We do take precautions though, I had him put on hand sanitizer before, we’ll do the same thing when he’s finished playing. I’ve instructed him to not touch his face and to try and keep a distance from other children, I don’t know how effective that will be, but we’re trying,” Wolfe said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, open spaces are safer than being cooped up indoors.

However, even on playgrounds, it is better to be safe than sorry.

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