Concern about the spread of coronavirus continues to grow. Fortunately, children are less likely to become ill than adults if infected with the virus. As the story unfolds, Forest Hills Pediatrics will continue to keep you updated with the latest recommendations.
What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus was first identified in the 1960s, and strains circulate every year that cause typical symptoms of a mild cold. COVID-19 is a new form of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. 90% of cases have presented with early symptom of high fever, and 70% with a dry cough.
Is my child at risk?
Children may contract COVID-19, and present with symptoms of fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. However, for reasons yet unclear, the virus has not impacted children as severely as adults. Children typically have milder courses, and no children under the age of 9 years has died of the virus to date.
What if my child has special needs, such as asthma or congenital heart disease?
Experts are recommending you take the same precautions you would for influenza or any other highly contagious respiratory illness. Again, no young children have died from COVID-19 to date.
What about travel? Should we cancel our spring break plans?
This is a difficult question to answer, as the impact of COVID-19 is changing day by day, and so are recommendations. As yet, there are no official travel restrictions when traveling within the USA. Some facts to consider are if COVID-19 is spreading in the area of your destination, if you will be exposed to crowds during your travel, if you live with or will travel with people of high risk (older adults or those with chronic medical issues), and if you do become ill or exposed, are you prepared to be quarantined.
What is Forest Hills Pediatrics doing differently now that COVID-19 is in Michigan?
We are using separate entrances and areas of our building to see sick and well patients. To help avoid spread of disease, it is our goal to keep as many patients as possible who are ill with fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms out of our office. Our usual walk-in clinic is closed at this time, and we are asking you to call our office in the morning so that we can triage your child. Please only bring your child to a well visit if they are truly well (please call us first if they are having fever or cough). Please have one healthy adult accompany your child, and no siblings.
We do have virtual visits available through doxy.me, and plan to utilize them as much as possible so that we can continue to care for your family while minimizing potential exposures. If you are scheduled for a virtual visit (virtual visits are by appointment only), you simply have to click on this link, then you'll be prompted to select the doctor you are seeing from the drop down menu. You will be placed into a virtual waiting room prior to the visit. Once you are in the visit, the doctor is able to request videos or photos from your phone, so if you feel a particular photo or video of your child would be helpful during the e-visit, make sure you take them prior to entering the virtual waiting room.
The spread and extent of disease remains unknown as yet, so our office policies may be changing over time as things progress. We are grateful for your patience during this time, and will do our best to keep you posted with any and all changes.
Is there really reason to worry? Isn't COVID-19 no worse than the flu?
COVID-19 is a novel virus, so much remains unknown as to the course it will take over time. However, we do know that many people (mostly older adults and those with medical conditions) have become ill quicky and required ICU care. When the number of patients requiring ICU care to survive exceeds the amount of ICU beds/equipment available, the mortality rate increases significantly. Other countries with fast spread of COVID-19 have had to make tough decisions about which patients to save and which patients would not receive further care. The goal of social distancing and quarantine is to slow the spread of the virus so that we do not overwhelm our healthcare system. While young healthy people are at very low risk of death from having COVID-19, if they continue their lives as usual, they risk infecting many in the vulnerable population who will suffer the consequences. This article explains it nicely.
How can I get tested for COVID-19?
Testing is limited. The test for COVID-19 is a nasal swab similar to what is taken to test for flu; however there are a lack of testing facilities at this point. Testing is only recommended at this time for those who are very sick or who have had known exposure to COVID-19. If your child has not had a known exposure, and is having mild or moderate symptoms, they will likely NOT be swabbed at this time. You can obtain a free screening through Spectrum Health at 833-559-0659. Since this situation is developing rapidly, we will keep you updated as things change.
So what should I do if I think I or a family member has COVID?
If symptoms are mild to moderate, stay home. This is the best thing you can do not only for you or your child's health, but for vulnerable members of the population you might come into contact with. Keeping those with mild to moderate illness out of doctor's offices and emergency rooms is our goal. But how long do you need to stay home? It is recommended you stay home until symptoms have resolved. The length you need to stay home will differ based on your symptoms. The 14-day quarantine period is for those with known exposure to COVID-19, but are not sick.