MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With more than half of Minnesotans above age 16 having already received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose, the number of cases among children has continued to spread.

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that the number of total COVID-19 cases in children up to age 14 is higher than the number of cases seen from the higher risk group of ages 60 to 74.

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Children tend to have much milder symptoms, and deaths in that demographic are rare, but with the recent surge in the B117 variant in Minnesota, state health officials have still urged parents to take take precautions to prevent the virus from mutating further.

WCCO spoke to an infectious disease expert from Allina Health, Dr. Frank Rhame. He says there hasn’t been official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on how parents should approach summer plans now that so many are vaccinated. He did say it likely depends on your personal circumstances.

If you have anyone high risk in your family or social bubble who is not vaccinated, that would limit what you would want to do, in order to protect that vulnerable person.

However, if you have two healthy adult parents who are vaccinated and healthy children with no underlying health conditions, Rhame felt comfortable in saying you can likely do a lot more things this summer, such as family vacations, outdoor playdates, maybe even weddings with your family.

He said kids are higher risk for getting COVID with indoor playdates, being close to other people who aren’t masked, or having a higher number of social “pods.” The key is still taking those precautions when making plans, which include avoiding large groups and social distancing.

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“You are not, in the summer, going to be able to control your kids. If you get them to spend as much time with their friends outdoors, mask and distance when they’re around people you don’t know. To be safe, that’s probably the best we can do,” Rhame said.

Rhame said it’s up to parents to monitor their kids symptoms. Even something that seems minor, like a cold, can in actuality be COVID-19 in children, so you would want to then keep them home until they are tested.

It’s also important to note that are still severe cases of COVID-19 conditions in children that are rare, but out there. And as long as the virus spreads, the greater the chance it can further mutate. Experts say infants and adolescents are at higher risk for severe illness, with obesity being the most prevalent underlying condition.

“Most children with COVID are asymptomatic or mild to moderate symptoms approximately 10% however will have severe disease,” Dr. Brooke Moore, pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Respiratory and Critical Care Specialists, said.

Some experts believe children ages 12 to 15 could have a vaccine by this summer. Children younger than that may not be until 2022.

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The Minnesota Department of Health announced they are now encouraging schools to offer tests to middle and high schoolers every two weeks. The state would provide the tests.

Kate Raddatz