MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Over the past few, so many WCCO viewers have sent us their Good Questions about COVID-19.

So, we asked three infectious diseases experts in the Twin Cities to give us their advice on some of the biggest concerns so you can make the right decisions for your family.

The experts didn’t agree on all of the answers, but did say the advice is constantly changing as we learn more about the virus and community transmission increases in Minnesota.

Should people postpone routine doctor and dentist appointments?

The experts say yes. In many cases, those decisions have already been made for patients as several healthcare providers are cancelling non-essential visits and appointments. Their best advice: Call your provider and ask the provider what to do.

On Monday, the Minnesota Dental Association, in conjunction with the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, strongly recommended that dentists practicing in Minnesota voluntarily suspend non-emergency dental care for the next 14 days.

Should you fly?

Each expert said yes, but only if you have to.

“Unless it’s absolutely necessary, I would not,” said Dr. Stacene Maroushek, an infectious disease pediatrician with Hennepin Healthcare.

Is it ok to eat fruits and vegetables at the grocery store?

The experts all said yes, as long as people wash them using friction.

“I have zero issue here,” said Dr. Frank Rhame, an infectious disease specialist with Allina Health. “You don’t want to drive yourself crazy.”

Is it ok to take a walk or ride a bike outside?

Yes, in fact, each of the experts recommend people do just that. It’s important, though, to maintain a social distance of three to six feet.

Is it safe to have a small family birthday party?

Each expert advised against that, even if it is fewer than ten people.

“No,” said Dr. Maroushek. “It’s really time to hunker down.”

Is it ok to play outside with the neighbor’s kids?

Each expert said yes, this could be acceptable with several large caveats. Dr. Maroushek said to limit the kids to one or two and make sure they are always three to six feet apart. Dr. Rhame said before doing this, it’s important to note that social distancing for children is very difficult. If children can’t do it, then don’t play together.

Is it ok to have takeout food?

Both Dr. Maroushek and Dr. Rhame answered they believed takeout food was safe.

But, Dr. Mark Schleiss, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota said he’s avoiding takeout food because it involves close contact with other people handling the product.

“It’s not the food, but the potential for human contact,” Dr. Schleiss said.

He also acknowledged that takeout food was a difficult question and pointed out this was personal opinion, not an official recommendation.

Are playdates ok?

Both Dr. Maroushek and Dr. Schleiss says no – it’s not a good idea at all.

But, Dr. Rhame has a slightly different take. He said if a family chooses to connect with another family, chose one close friend and stay with that friend throughout this entire period of social distancing. Make sure the two children are not sick and are only playing with each other. Cutting down on the number of people anyone associates with helps prevent transmission.

“I don’t think we can bottle up kids for two months without going crazy,” Dr. Rhame said.

Heather Brown

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