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How should we think about COVID with school starting back up?

"COVID is still certainly with us," said Kathy Como-Sabetti, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health.

MINNEAPOLIS — With the end of the Great Minnesota Get-Together and the start of the school year, health experts say it’s not the time to forget about COVID.

While we’re in a much better place than before, they say the community should still be mindful of precautions. 

Hannah Lichtsinn, a medical director and pediatrician at Hennepin Healthcare, is busy answering questions from parents about how they should think about COVID. She’s also busy easing her little ones into the school year. 

"We test when they do get any sort of cold symptoms, we test for COVID to see if that's what it is," said Lichtsinn. "But otherwise, I'm more focused on getting their markers and watercolors packed in their backpacks to get ready for a fun first day." 

Lichtsinn says people feel more comfortable with COVID and that's OK, especially since hospitalizations are down and more people are vaccinated. 

But there's still a risk of exposing vulnerable people to severe disease so people should get tested if they feel sick.

"COVID is still certainly with us," said Kathy Como-Sabetti, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health. "It's important to get tested. And it's important to understand if you are at high risk, what your options are, and how you can prevent severe disease." 

Sabetti says families should still wash their hands as if they were in the height of COVID, test, stay home when they're sick, and get vaccines when they become available to them. 

What health experts point out is that COVID is no common cold and that there continues to be long-term symptoms. 

"For some individuals, they may want to consider masking if they themselves are at high risk for severe illness and viruses are circulating at high levels," said Sabetti. 

"I think that people should be thoughtful and aware," said Lichtsinn. "Not necessarily afraid, but definitely keeping COVID on their radar."

Officials with the CDC and FDA expect a new, up-to-date booster will be available in the fall. Health experts recommend checking with your doctor for information on the new COVID booster as well as the flu and RSV vaccines.


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