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Santa Maria daycare center hits full capacity during COVID-19 pandemic

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SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Kids at the Small Wonders Daycare Center in Santa Maria are having a blast, all 100 of them despite the pandemic.

"Social media has definitely exaggerated it. And the survival rates over 99%. So I don’t really understand what the fear is," said owner Dawn Zachman with the daycare center.

Zachman says she is not requiring kids and adults to wear a mask or maintain a physical distance. "It's their personal choice. Well it’s pretty much business as usual here. The children are allowed to play together. We don’t tell them they have to keep 6 feet. Most of the kids don’t even know what 6 feet is."

While the owner doesn’t require anyone to wear face masks at the daycare center she says so far no one has tested positive for COVID-19. "No one here is worried about it. We do a lot of hand washing and we try to tell the children to wash their hands and don’t touch their face."

Regulations ask daycares to take physical distancing precautions where possible including having smaller groups play outside.

But health experts also acknowledge that can be challenging.

"COVID-19 can infect any age. It can infect any race, ethnicity or any gender. There have been pediatric deaths. So it should be taken seriously among all people," said Dr. Chuck Merrill with the Marian Regional Medical Center.

According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, children should remain in groups as small as possible.

The state requires adults to wear masks and face coverings are strongly encouraged for children between two years old and second grade.

The complete extended interview with Dawn Zachman can be found below:

California / Community / Coronavirus / Home (Do Not Use) / Lifestyle / Santa Maria - North County / Video

Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martelotti is a reporter at KEYT|KCOY|KKFX.