As confirmed COVID-19 cases increase throughout our community and the country, we have received many questions regarding how to keep our patients and their families safe. COVID-19 is a very serious infection and we feel the urgent need to address these commonly asked questions concerning COVID-19.
What is social distancing? What is the point? What does it mean for me and my family?
Social distancing means actively avoiding contact with others as much as possible. The point of social distancing is to limit the spread of COVID-19 to lessen the severity of the illness burden on the American people. Every person plays a role in helping the country limit the spread of COVID-19 because every person has the ability to get infected and then spread the virus to others. For the majority (roughly 80%) of otherwise healthy people under the age of sixty, COVID-19 causes typical cold symptoms. The challenging part of COVID-19 is that it can cause severe respiratory distress in up to 20% of adults (even otherwise healthy people), with a particularly high risk of death in older people (> 60 years old) and those with underlying medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes and cancer). Based on the current rate of COVID-19 cases being diagnosed in the US, it is expected that the cases of the coronavirus will increase by a factor of 10 every 10 days. The medical community is preparing for a potential crisis of shortages of ICU beds, respiratory equipment and personnel to support the surge in medical need due to COVID-19 infections.
Therefore, all persons should practice social distancing in order to mitigate the spread of this virus in attempt to protect our entire community, our state and our country. Even if you or your loved ones are not in a high- risk category, it is important you practice social distancing because you can be a vector to spread the disease. It is imperative that everyone follows the advice from the leaders of our health departments and the World Health Organization in order to protect our community. All non-essential trips, errands, outings, playdates, mall runs, gym work outs and social gatherings should be postponed. It is in our power, right now, to change the spread of COVID-19. By following social distancing guidelines strictly, you will be saving lives.
To repeat: DO NOT have a playdate, DO NOT have a sleepover, DO NOT go to the gym, DO NOT go to a child’s tennis lesson, DO NOT go to a friend’s house for dinner. DO NOT go to a movie. DO NOT go to church.
We live close to relatives/friends. Neither our family nor their family have sick symptoms. Can we visit their homes for small gatherings?
While it is very hard emotionally to distance, it is important to practice strict social distancing to prevent spread. Even if someone is asymptomatic, this does not mean that they are not infected. An incubation period for a virus is defined as the period of time between the invasion by an infectious agent and the development of symptoms of the disease. The incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to be 14 days. Therefore, someone could have had an unknown exposure any time within the past two weeks before they develop symptoms. It is still possible to spread a virus when asymptomatic (not actively coughing, sneezing, blowing one’s nose). Given that this virus can be fatal to the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions and even to those who are otherwise healthy and younger, it is imperative to strictly adhere to social distancing rules in order to stop spreading the virus.
Can we plan playdates outside with other kids?
As of now, given that almost all kids in New Jersey were in school for the past 1-2 weeks, some children could be infected with COVID-19 and be in the asymptomatic incubation period. It is prudent that we limit all possible exposures and opportunities for the virus to spread. Therefore, we strongly recommend against children from different households having playdates, even outdoors at this time.
I live with a person who is classified as high risk for COVID-19. What precautions should I take? What if someone in the household develops cold symptoms?
The World Health Organization stresses the importance of hand hygiene in and outside of the home. Frequent hand washing is important. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces of the home, especially doorknobs, railings and counters which are touched frequently. If someone in the home is not feeling well and develops sick symptoms, try to limit the shared spaces. If possible, have one living space dedicated to a sick person. The sick person should avoid contact with others for seven days after sick symptoms in order to limit the spread of the infection.
There has been a confirmed COVID-19 case in another child (or another child’s parent) at our school. Should my kids be tested?
As COVID-19 testing becomes more available, the confirmed cases of COVID-19 will increase. It is expected that most children who are infected with COVID-19 will have mild cold symptoms. These mild cold symptoms should be treated with the same supportive care as other colds (i.e. nasal saline spray, steam showers, good hydration, bulb suctioning). If the child is not having any signs of respiratory distress (such as labored breathing, shortness of breath, very fast breathing, extra sounds like high pitch inspiratory stridor or expiratory wheezing), the child is safe to recover from their viral syndrome at home. Most people and children will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home without seeking medical care. Your child does not need to be tested if they have had a known exposure but are not exhibiting any symptoms. Your child also does not need to be tested if they have had a known exposure and they have mild sick symptoms because, as long as they are not having respiratory distress, the treatment of supportive care would be the same for any virus (COVID-19 or any other common virus).
It is also important to recognize that at the current moment the ability to test for COVID-19 is limited. The medical system is at very high risk for serious shortages of personal protective equipment, ICU level beds, respiratory equipment and medical staff. It is important to not overwhelm the medical system for testing that is not necessary so that the patients who do need medical support have access. Therefore, if you or your child is having cold symptoms without fever and signs of respiratory distress, COVID-19 testing is not necessary. Please stay home to avoid exposing others. However, if you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, please call us immediately to discuss their illness and we will provide guidance on how to get your child the proper medical attention.