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Unvaccinated kids urged to continue masking up indoors amid new CDC guidelines

A local pediatrician says it is acceptable to unmask for outdoor play.

PORTLAND, Ore. — With the sun shining bright Friday afternoon, kids and parents alike flocked to Westmoreland Park in Southeast Portland. It was an easy decision for mom Hannah Grossi.

"With our kids we try to stay outdoors," she said. "Try to remain in open-aired places."

Grossi's three kids are all under the age of five. That means they are not vaccinated. Parks, with fresh air, feel safe to Grossi. Restaurants and grocery stores do not. In fact, they feel even less safe since the CDC's announcement that vaccinated individuals can go maskless in most places.

"People can choose to go maskless even though they're not vaccinated," Grossi said. "We have more of a hesitation we want to pay attention to."

Dr. Corey Fish, of Brave Care, understands where Grossi is coming from. He encourages parents to put their young, unvaccinated kids in masks before heading into busy, indoor places. The doctor says it might not be a bad idea for parents to mask up, too.

"I think a lot of parents may be in a position where they're going to have to continue to mask with their kids," Dr. Fish said. "Why don't my parents have to wear a mask and why do I? We all know what that's like working with little ones."

Where little ones can ditch their face coverings, Dr. Fish says, is in a controlled environment.

"If there's a group of parents, say four, five, six sets of parents, and they all have kids under 12 but parents are vaccinated, particularly outside where we know risk of COVID transmission is low, to me that's an acceptable situation where you can let kids run around without masks and play," Dr. Fish said.

The doctor says it comes down to risk reduction versus risk elimination, at least until the little ones are eligible for a vaccine, something that is already on Hannah Grossi's radar.

"Of course we want to make sure there's enough evidence in trials but definitely we'd be interested in that," she said. 

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