Preschoolers are mask-licking germ bombs — yet few catch the coronavirus

The infection starts with a sniffle. Next comes a barking cough. Soon, there’s a fever, maybe vomiting and diarrhea, possibly an ear infection or tonsillitis or pink eye.

These are common symptoms in preschool, where viral outbreaks are as ubiquitous as finger paints and apple juice. In a typical year, an otherwise healthy preschooler will bring home 12 to 18 upper respiratory infections — at least six to eight colds, two cases of croup and, more often than not, a bout of the flu, among others.

But 2020 is not a typical year, and SARS-CoV-2 — the technical term for the novel coronavirus — is no day-care germ. Now, with hundreds of large centers reopening across California, many families are asking: Is preschool safe?