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After WCCO Report, Lawmaker Wants Playgrounds Safer, Cleaner

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s a call for change after a WCCO report.

Last week, WCCO shared the results of a germ test from some Twin Cities indoor playgrounds. WCCO found high germ counts on every single surface swabbed and no one’s checking to see how indoor playgrounds are cleaned, or how often.

Republican State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer wants to change that. She believes some simple changes could make children safer.

“My first reaction was I thought there would be some kind of standards,” Kiffmeyer said.

As a longtime nurse, WCCO’s report got her attention. WCCO visited three indoor playgrounds and swabbed two surfaces at each stop. Even though there’s no indication the playgrounds we tested were any dirtier than any other place where many children play, the lab found a lot of germs, and on one surface a bacteria that could give children a serious stomach bug.

Kiffmeyer sees a proposed set of rules at the state level as more of a matter of common sense than any kind of controversy.

“There should be certain standards of frequency of cleaning, and standards of cleaning that you would expect from any public establishment,” she said.

Kiffmeyer plans to introduce a bill that says playgrounds must clean all surfaces children touch at least once a day. She also wants a hand sanitizer station at each playground, and for there to be a state phone number displayed that parents can call to report any problems. Most importantly, she thinks the playgrounds should be held to the same standards as the restaurants that are often attached to some places.

“It should be something reasonable, whereas right now we don’t have anything at all,” Kiffmeyer said.

The Minnesota Department of Health has taken three complaints about playground cleanliness in the last three years. It said last week that statewide standards probably wouldn’t do anything to prevent the spread of disease.

Kiffmeyer believes it’s too important not to do something that looks after the state’s youngest customers.

“To give them the best, safest environment that they can have,” she said.

Kiffmeyer hopes to have the bill finished soon and will work with Minnesota’s hospitality industry and the health department on more of the language. She says if she can get the support, the bill could become law this session.

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