26 Feb Coronavirus In The U.S. – An Update
By Dr. Ruben Rucoba
Recently, the CDC and other health experts suggested that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis may worsen, with some expecting larger outbreaks in the US very soon. There have been multiple reports from reputable news organizations, but the reality is that so far, the US has had very few cases of COVID-19. Here is what we know and what we don’t know about COVID-19:
- At present, we here in the US are at low risk for COVID-19 infection. Although the CDC notes that the “potential” health risk globally is high, for “the general American public,” the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low,” according to the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html)
- The illness is spread from person-to-person, so if you have not been to China or South Korea in the past 2 weeks, and have not come into contact with someone who was infected, it is extremely unlikely that you would contract the virus.
- Like many coronaviruses, which are often causes of the common cold, COVID-19 usually causes mild illness. Over 80% of the cases caused by COVID-19 are mild, no more severe than the common cold. We don’t mean to minimize the deaths that COVID-19 has caused, but the reality is the vast majority of infections result in minor illnesses.
- Some good news: The disease seems to affect children only very mildly. Of the 75,000 cases, only about 100 have been reported in children, with none of them having severe complications.
- In contrast to COVID-19, influenza, the cause of the flu, is especially severe this year: influenza has already accounted for 105 pediatric deaths so far this year with months to go before the season is over (compared to only 41 in all of flu season 2018-2019).
- While you may hear about government agencies preparing for a COVID-19 outbreak by discussing school closures and cancellations of public gatherings, please keep in mind that for many of these agencies, their job is to assume and prepare for the worst. There are no immediate plans for any of these measures, but the authorities are just making contingency plans.
- PediaTrust recently adopted a COVID-19 policy that is being put into place at each of our offices so that if we do encounter a patient with the virus (and we have not yet), then we will be fully prepared to deal effectively with that patient and protect our other patients, their families, and our employees.
If your child has respiratory symptoms and a fever and has either been to China in the past 2 weeks or exposed to someone with COVID-19, please call your PediaTrust office. In the meantime, practice good measures to keep from getting infected with ANY virus (https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/index.html). And the flu vaccine this year has been proven very effective for children under 18 years of age. Vaccinated children are far less likely to get influenza and far less likely to die from influenza. So if your child has not gotten the flu vaccine yet, please call your PediaTrust office to schedule one.