This story was posted on Thursday April 23, 2020. The information on coronavirus, suggested protocols, community information and more is changing rapidly. Please consult the CDC, the Texas Department of Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics for up to date information. For local help and info, visit Harris County Public Health. If you suspect you may have coronavirus, please call your physician who can give you specific advice and a test referral if necessary.
How can we protect our families from coronavirus? What should you do if you think your child is sick? To help answer some of our many questions related to coronavirus, we spoke to local pediatrician Naheed Rahman, MD, F.A.A.P., who is the founding physician of Steeplechase Pediatric Center. Aside from frequent hand washing, staying home, and social distancing there are still questions that come up for families with children. Here’s what she shared with us about how to help keep your family well and healthy during this pandemic.
Should families consider well visits with their Pediatrician, or is going to the doctor putting them at risk for getting COVID-19?
It is important to keep up with your child’s well doctor visits, especially those that require vaccinations. You should ask your doctor’s office what measures they are taking to keep patients safe during this pandemic. In compliance with Texas regulations, Steeplechase Pediatrics is resuming visits from sick and well patients of all ages. Separation of sick and well patients will continue, as well as strict adherence to CDC guidelines. At my office, we are doing separate time blocks for sick and well visits. We have turned the morning to well visit patients and have designated the afternoon for sick visits. If a patient is experiencing a high fever and has a cough, they will be entering through a seperate entrance in the back and there are specific rooms for those patients only.As you know, the virus can remain on surfaces. We are taking measures to address that as well – such as wiping surfaces down frequently, we turn our “well visit” seats to face the wall so that any sick patient that enters the lobby does not sit on those. We have thought of these situations to keep well patients out of risk of contracting the virus.
There have been mixed messages about how to handle items coming into your home (groceries, mail, etc.). Is it “too much” to be disinfecting things entering your home, or is that something we should be following?
COVID-19 can last on different surfaces for a specific amount of time. Wear gloves when handling these things, throw them out in the trash when done. When dealing with groceries, there are youtube videos you can search for recommendations on how to wipe down your groceries. Bring in fruits and wash them. Wipe down milk gallons.If there are any items that can sit in quarantine in the outdoor heat (pantry items, paper towels, etc.) then you can have them sit in the heat for some time and then disinfect them once you bring them in.
We would love to help keep our kids informed but not create fear. How can we talk to kids about COVID-19?
It really is age-specific. My 7 year old grandson is so well informed, he catched so much from what he has seen on CNN and so forth. The best way to talk to kids would be to inform them that this has happened all throughout history – societies have suffered through epidemics in the past. Yes, there have been some deaths from all those and now. The best thing we can do, is look to our experts and follow their recommendations. This is a time that God has given us, to enjoy. Be helpful around the house with Mom and Dad, do your school work. Make sure you go to bed early so that you are able to wake up fresh the next day, it will help with your school work the next day. Having a fresh start gives more time to doing what you want to do.
What are your thoughts on when we can safely bring kids places once the restricitions start to lift?
I would wait and see the results at first. I would suggest staying away from large chain restaurants, crowded places. We certainly do not know enough, it is safer to err on the side of caution and see how the lightened restrictions are going before venturing out fully.
We keep hearing that COVID-19 is mostly lethal in seniors and those with underlying conditions, not so much children. Should that give us sense of comfort in the event that a child catches it?
There is information that suggests that it is less likely that children would die from COVID-19. They can still get it, and it is not impossible for them to die from COVID-19, however it is less likely.
If we do suspect our child is sick, is the only option going to one of the test centers or is Steeplechase Pediatrics currently able to see/test patients who may have COVID-19.?
Yes, we are taking extra measures on patients who are experiencing high fever and dry cough. We have a seperate door and rooms designated to those patients.
The local Authorities have recently issued the order to wear masks when leaving your home? Should we wear them even during neighborhood walks, should the kids under 10 do so as well? What message can we give the children on why they should wear them?
Wearing masks has been done in parts of the world before this pandemic. The people in Asia have done so for quite some time, they learned this during the SARS outbreak. It is encouraged that children of any age wear them, though it is important to recognize that it may be hard for small children to keep them on. Children 4 and above, who can understand, should wear them when going anywhere, even on walks around the neighborhood.
With the warmer weather, should we be worried about mosquitoes transmitting Corona Virus?
At this time there is no evidence suggesting that mosquitoes are transmitting the disease.
Do you have any other suggestions families with kids can follow during this pandemic?
Aside from following social distancing, not going out, make sure you are frequently washing your hands. The virus does last on things like shoes. Make sure you do not wear shoes inside the house. When you get home, take off your shoes and wash your hands.