Experts say colder weather may mean an uptick in COVID-19 cases this winter |

Experts say colder weather may mean an uptick in COVID-19 cases this winter

Rich Reeve
Updated: October 23, 2021 10:53 PM
Created: October 23, 2021 10:36 PM

On a crisp fall day at Como Park, the playgrounds were busy —  the gazebos filled with family gatherings. 

And parents like Becky Hawkinson were thinking about how to keep their kids safe with temperatures falling and the pandemic still a factor. 

“It’s hard, it’s really hard for parents right now to know what is the right thing to do for my child,” Hawkinson, from Lakeville, says. “We want to continue to live our lives however that looks, and if things change in the atmosphere and we have to scale back, then we'll scale back."

Experts say cold weather states, including Minnesota, may see an uptick in COVID-19 cases this winter.  

"People have been able to spend time with each other outside,” explains Hennepin Health Care Pediatrician Hannah Lichtsinn. “It has offered a layer of protection against infectious spread with COVID."

She says with a drop in temperatures, that could change.  

"As our lives move indoors, the opportunity for COVID to spread, especially with this new delta variant, that spread will go up. So unless people are taking a lot of precautions, it's inevitable."

The Minnesota Department of Health’s most recent data says the seven-day positivity rate is about 8%. 

That means an average of 8% of COVID tests are coming back positive. 
“Everyone wants to get back to normal,” says Tim Lindgren, from Roseville. “But everybody too, has to face that normal isn’t normal yet, and it’s going to be a while.” 

Lindgren says his family is completely vaccinated — he says he received a booster shot on Friday. 

Now the family is discussing how to gather for the holidays--- including Thanksgiving.  

"Last year I think we celebrated outside in the backyard and froze,” smiles Lindgren’s wife Lynn. “I think we’ll probably do just my immediate family, and do it indoors.” 

Lichtsinn says the available vaccines are the best protection from getting sick from COVID. 

“I think about how, you know, Thanksgiving dinner coming up or Halloween parties,” she says. If everyone in that group is vaccinated, that is a whole lot safer than if there’s people in that group who aren’t.” 

But what about an indoor setting, where you may not know who’s been vaccinated, and who has not?

“If you’re going to say a crowded bar or a busy restaurant, a party of some sort, where you don’t have a way of knowing if everybody around you is vaccinated or not, wear a mask,” Lichtsinn advises. “I wish we were at a phase where we didn’t have to think about any of these things anymore. But unfortunately, we’re not. Hopefully, we’ll get there soon, though.”

The health department says about 73% of Minnesotans have gotten at least one vaccine dose. 

The Minnesota Department of Health says 70% have gotten all their shots. 

Meanwhile, the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11 is expected to get FDA approval by early next month. Lichtsinn says a roll-out could happen soon after that. 

Hawkinson says she’s trying to find out more about the children’s vaccine.  

"So I think as a parent, it's really hard to make a decision because there's so many factors you're looking at,” she says. 

And as for Thanksgiving?

Hawkinson says she’s trusting family members to do whatever is safe for everyone. 

"We'll see what everybody's comfort level is, but as of right now, we'll invite the siblings over and have our normal Thanksgiving,” she says. “I feel like I'll just trust people for their own and we'll just see what happens I guess.” 

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