FAQs for Parents
Monday, March 23, 2020 | 4:46 pm
The risk depends on where you live and if you have recently traveled. If you are not in an area where COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) is spreading, have not traveled to an outbreak area or been in close contact with someone who has the virus, the chances of you or your family getting it are currently low.
It’s understandable that you may feel stressed or anxious about this situation, but parents should be prepared and aware of the latest information on the virus, not scared.
While people of all ages can be infected with this virus, it appears that children may be less susceptible to being infected. Their exposure to a wide variety of different respiratory viruses circulating in daycare centers and schools may have a protective effect.
Have a household plan in case your community experiences the spread of this virus. Be prepared with the following:
- Practice preventative actions now. This includes handwashing, proper cough etiquette, cleaning surfaces in your home and avoiding people who are sick.
- Have a two-week supply of food and essentials (i.e. toilet paper, etc.) at home.
- Make sure you have one bottle of Tylenol or other fever reducers in your medicine cabinet.
- Be prepared for potential workplace and child care changes. If there is an outbreak and your employer or your child’s daycare/school need to temporarily close, have a plan in place for how you will handle this change.
The best way to protect your child is to teach and reinforce proper hand and cough hygiene and avoid those who are ill. Your child should stay home when sick. Remind them to:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (Tip: sing “Happy Birthday” twice from beginning to end), especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid playgrounds, as social distancing may be difficult, and there are many high-touch surfaces.
- Parks will allow better social distancing.
- Playing in the yard, walking and riding bikes are good alternatives and also provide outside time.
- Buying and wearing masks: Unless you have been told by your doctor that your child should wear a mask because of a chronic medical condition, masks are not necessary. They are effective only for those who are sick to help prevent the spread of disease.
- Stockpiling medical resources: Buying medical resources in bulk (i.e. masks, sanitizer etc.) is not needed. In fact, it actually makes it more difficult for health care workers to do their job as their supply levels may be impacted by everyone else’s demand for these products.
While it is helpful for kids to be informed about the virus, limit repeated news exposure and social media regarding COVID-19, particularly for young children and those prone to anxiety. Repeated exposure to distressing information and images in the news can exacerbate anxiety.
Other tips include:
- Find out what your child has heard or seen about COVID-19 and when talking to them, stick to the facts.
- Calmly present information that is developmentally appropriate for your child and dispel any rumors that they may have heard.
- Validating your child’s feelings can also provide reassurance.
- Explain to children that many expert government workers, scientists and medical personnel are working on how to keep people safe from COVID-19.
- Keep lines of communication open with children, as the situation is developing.
- For children who are prone to anxiety or concern about germs, your primary care doctor can advise about when it is appropriate to seek professional treatment.
- Stay in the present, focus on known facts, and do not allow negative thinking to impact your health.
- Continue to take all of your medications exactly as prescribed and be sure to ask any questions you may have to your provider.
- Minimize your use of any recreational substances as this can lead to increased depression, increased anxiety, and negative thinking. Think about decreasing or quitting smoking to improve your health.
- Stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues for your benefit and to be supportive of them. This mutual support will enhance your sense of well-being
- Keep your medical appointments, continue to exercise, eat healthy foods, and engage with spiritual resources if that works for you.
- If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, reach out to friends and family and consider therapy to manage any symptoms you may be experiencing. Call 911 if you ever feel your life is at risk. There are many resources at our institution to help you with any crisis you may be experiencing.
Pregnancy and New Moms
To help control the spread of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Wake Forest Baptist has canceled all birth center and NICU tours and parent/maternity classes at all hospital locations beginning March 12, 2020.
As of now, we have no data on whether COVID-19 increases the risk of birth defects or the risk of miscarriage. If it behaves like other coronaviruses it is very unlikely to cause birth defects but it could increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery if the mother is critically ill.
Fortunately, early data suggests that pregnant women are at no greater risk for serious illness when they acquire COVID-19 and if they are young and healthy, this is very rare. This is different from the flu where pregnancy is a risk factor for more serious infection. That said, preferably it would be wise not to become pregnant until we are through this pandemic. If a patient did become pregnant, it's important for her to practice good mitigation strategies to help prevent acquiring the disease.
Precautions to Take For Children and Infants
Larry Givner, MD, professor of pediatric infectious diseases and a pediatric disease expert, recently spoke with WGHP’s Melissa Painter about children and COVID-19.