The very first case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported from Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. Since then, it has made its way around the globe and spread within numerous communities. Something else is spreading, too: fear and misinformation. I’ve heard many different takes on the virus, from those that have zero worry, to those who paid $50 for hand sanitizer on Amazon.
And then there’s this woman...
(thank you for ALWAYS keeping it real, Memphis!)
Whether you’ve just booked a cruise (because, who wouldn’t want an entire ship to themselves?), OR you’re creating your very own hazmat suit out of trash bags and grocery sacks, we ALL share the same goal: protecting our families. While it’s been reported that the virus is taking it easy on children, we still need to shield them from illness. SO, I reached out to local Pediatrician, Dr. Todd Blake, at The Children’s Clinic here in Jackson, TN, to gain a little clarity.
Q: What are the main COVID-19 symptoms that I should watch for in my child?
A: Based on the information gained from patients testing positive for the virus, the most common symptoms are: runny nose, cough, congestion, headache, fever and shortness of breath. This is a little confusing since these can all be symptoms of the common cold and/or the flu; however, the main thing to watch for is fever and shortness of breath, as they can signal the need for a more immediate intervention by your healthcare provider.
Q: Test kit availability has been a major issue. If my symptomatic child can’t be tested for COVID-19, but has possibly been exposed, what first step should I take?
A: This all depends on the likelihood of exposure. If there is no known exposure, the likelihood for coronavirus is low. You should follow the same guidelines you normally would, such as no daycare/school until fever free for at least 24 hours. On the other hand, if there has been actual exposure, the current recommendation is to self-quarantine. The time frame for that is 14 days, beginning upon the knowledge of exposure, or when symptoms present, whichever comes first. It should be noted that the incubation time in general is anywhere from 3-5 days, which means you could have/spread the virus before symptoms begin. *Please check with your local/state health department, or the CDC for specific quarantine protocols.
Q: Since there is not a preventative vaccine, or dedicated anti-viral drug, what can I do to help ease the symptoms my child is experiencing?
A: The only thing you can do is treat the symptoms. Administer fever reducers like Tylenol and/or Motrin, plenty of fluids, rest, and if it helps, use a humidifier for a cough.
Q: It has been reported that the virus is least severe in children; however, are there any specific populations of children who could be at risk for complications?
A: Yes. Children with asthma, heart problems, or those who are immunocompromised are all examples of children who would be at greater risk for complications from the virus.
Q: What about expectant mothers, and/or their unborn child? Are they at an increased risk for complications should they contract COVID-19?
A: Currently, there is no data to suggest that this population would be at an increased risk. More data and subsequent research would need to be done to either rule out, or confirm any correlation.
Q: If a parent/child contracts COVID-19, what steps should I take to keep the rest of my family healthy?
A: Self-quarantine of all family members exposed should be the first step. Not only can it protect your family from exposure to other germs that could potentially make you sicker, it also protects the people in the community by not exposing them unnecessarily. Again, proper hand washing, not touching the face, and coughing in the elbow are all good practices to prevent the spread of infection.
Something else to think about: school closures, or you're forced to self-quarantine. Personally, I'm headed to the nearest liquor store! But, preparedness is the name of the game and we’ve got a few things to help with the boredom! Follow these links for details…
A big thanks to Dr. Blake for taking the time to answer those questions! I can’t speak for any communities outside of my own, but I can tell you that we are lucky to have physicians like Dr. Blake who are truly doing everything in their power to keep our kids - and our community - healthy. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, let us know. *please note: all information provided is current as of March 11, 2020 (11:30am CST) and can change at any time*