05 Mar 3/5/20: An Update on the Coronavirus: Your Questions Answered.
We have had inquiries from patients with questions about COVID-19, the illness caused by the strain of coronavirus that is in the news. This blog is intended to answer some of those questions. As you know, the situation is changing daily, so we will send updates via email and our social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram) as well as on our blog (https://pediatrust.com/blog/).
What does this mean for my child and me?
- First, understand that your risk of catching the virus is low. As of this writing, there are fewer than 150 cases in the US. This number will certainly increase, and all the COVID-associated numbers will get worse before they get better. At this point, however, the risk is still low in the US. Localized outbreaks are likely to occur, like the one in the nursing home near Seattle. These are challenging for those specific populations, but pose less of a threat to the general population.
- The disease is usually mild. In the vast majority of cases, the illness is mild and patients never even seek medical attention.
- The good news is that the disease is almost never severe in children. They seem to get a mild, self-limited illness, and recover.
- Another piece of good news is that the disease may be less severe than expected. Initial reports suggest a high fatality rate (2-4%), but that may be erroneous due to undercounting of all the cases. A fuller explanation of that can be found here:
What can I do to prevent the spread of coronavirus?
- Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent getting the virus, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk (and reduce the spread of germs if you are sick), most of which are good to practice every winter:
- WASH YOUR HANDS: hand sanitizer is not effective against most viruses, so be sure to wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Teach your children: wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Although that will kill the COVID virus, hand washing is preferred.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
- Stay home from work if you are sick, and keep your children home from school if they are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Clean your smartphone and your children’s phones regularly: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/tips/2020/03/03/coronavirus-heres-how-keep-your-smartphone-clean/4937526002/
Is it safe to travel?
- Some parents have called to ask about travel plans. Since the global situation is changing frequently, we advise everyone to check daily on the CDC travel advisory website: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices. If your travel is not for a few weeks, we suggest getting travel insurance.
What should I do if I think my child has the virus?
- PediaTrust has a policy in place at all our offices that details how to deal with any patient suspected of having COVID, and we will work to minimize the exposure to other patients.
- If you do suspect your child may have COVID (due to symptoms and a positive travel history or exposure to a known case of COVID), then call the office first The best place for your child to be evaluated may be another setting (such as an ER) where other testing can be done (x-rays, coronavirus testing, etc.). Ask us first before you go: these visits are best coordinated by our office and the ER so the ER knows you are coming and can be prepared.
- If you or the adult accompanying your child coming to our office (for any reason) has recently traveled to one of the countries considered high-risk (currently China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and Hong Kong, but this may change rapidly), try to arrange to have another adult bring in your child. If that is not possible, then please don a mask when you arrive, alert the front desk, and we can put you and your child in a room as soon as possible.
How do I talk to my children about the virus?
- Your children may have questions about the virus. Here is one article about how to talk to them about it: https://parenting.nytimes.com/childrens-health/coronavirus-kids-talk?module=ptg-onsite-share&type=link&fbclid=IwAR1CBoJ22fqbFAdKg7mc8-qdLcZ1TSPce4EQtoO86qdp2XDLKu1sFCksXds
- Here is another article for talking to teens and tweens: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/02/well/family/coronavirus-teenagers-anxiety.html
Where can I go for more information and updates?
- The most reliable information can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
We will try to keep you informed with regular updates. Remember: wash your hands, clean your phones, and cover your coughs. Little steps can go a long way.