March 11, 2020
Our patients are asking a lot of questions about the new coronavirus, COVID-19. We wanted to take a few minutes to share evidence based information and guidance, and update you on ways our office is preparing for potential exposures. Click on text linked in blue for more information.
WHAT WE KNOW: Current data suggests kids are at low risk from COVID-19. Very few cases have been detected in children, and infected children show milder symptoms than adults.
Two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Saratoga County this week, and there are more than 100 confirmed cases in New York State. Based on the patterns observed in other places, we expect more infections in our community. We are preparing now for the possibility that infections become more widespread.
Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are the most common signs of infection. Illnesses from COVID-19 may present with a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, and diarrhea have also been reported.
Don’t forget it’s still cold and flu season in NY! Many common viruses and colds circulating at this time of year can cause the same symptoms.
Since kids with COVID-19 may not seem all that sick, it’s important to keep children with upper respiratory symptoms away from others who are more vulnerable to infection. This includes the elderly and anyone who may have a weakened immune system due to other medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR: Signs your child may need medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing not due to nasal congestion
- Fever > 100.3 in infants 3 months or younger
- Fever lasting more than 5 days, or returning after 24-48 hours fever free
- Irritability or discomfort not relieved by Tylenol or ibuprofen
- Signs of lethargy, including decreased alertness or extreme fatigue
- Concern for dehydration, less than 3 wet diapers in 24 hours
- Cough or congestion lasting longer than 2 weeks without improvement
- As always, trust your instincts!
Our doctors and nurses are available by phone 24/7. The number of patients with acute infections is likely to be high across all healthcare settings as worries about COVID-19 spread. We recommend avoiding urgent care or emergency room settings unless a higher level of care is medically necessary.
PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY:
Observe your kids’ habits and teach them how to avoid spreading germs. COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets – meaning coughs and sneezes. The virus can be picked up directly from an infected person, or from contaminated surfaces.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and dispose of tissues immediately, or cough into your elbow.
- Avoid touching your face. The mucous membranes in our eyes, noses, and mouth provide a pathway for viruses to enter our throat and airways. Studies show we touch our faces up to 20 times every hour!
Handwashing seems simple, but it’s the best way to prevent the spread of germs. Wash often! Soap and warm water are best. Make sure your kids rub hands together for at least 20 seconds- long enough to sing the ABCs. Rinse well. Use a towel to dry hands thoroughly and to turn off the faucet. More information from the CDC.
- Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol may be used when soap and water aren’t available, but it’s not a good substitute if hands are visibly dirty.
- Disinfect “high touch” surfaces around your home every day. Follow package instructions to make sure your cleaning product is effective. Wash laundry from sick family members on the warmest setting and dry completely. Wear gloves when appropriate.
Promote wellness. A healthy lifestyle will boost your immune system. Get enough sleep, eat your fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, and find an outlet for stress…
- Immunize against seasonal influenza. We still have a limited supply of flu vaccines available. COVID-19 is still uncommon, but we are still diagnosing cases of flu every day. Protection against the flu may prevent suspicion of COVID-19 in upcoming weeks. Vaccines against COVID-19 are in early stages of development and will not be available this season.
- Consider travel plans carefully. Avoid travel to high risk areas .
STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK! We will happily provide medical excuse letters for absences from work and school. Follow instructions from your doctor and public health officials if there is concern for COVID-19 infection.
PROTECTING OUR PATIENTS: Clifton Park Pediatrics, the Child Neurology Group, and Community Care Physicians have implemented plans to protect our patients, staff, and community.
We require your cooperation with the following safety measures:
- CALL AHEAD if your child is experiencing cough and fever and has traveled recently
- CALL AHEAD if you suspect your family has been exposed to COVID-19
- We will work with your family to determine the safest and most effective plan
- Our walk in hours are temporary suspended. We ask that you please call our office first before coming in if you need to be seen to avoid the potential of unnecessarily exposing other patients and our staff to the novel coronavirus, and so we can safely manage the flow of patients. We will make sure you can schedule a same day sick visit to minimize wait times and overcrowding. This does not mean that we won’t see you, but we are asking for your cooperation in calling first to ensure that proper infection control and precautions are carried out.
- We ask that one parent accompanies one patient for most visits. We prefer siblings and extended family stay home to minimize your exposure to illness!
- Please wear a mask if you are instructed to do so by our staff.
- Please notify our front desk if your child has a chronic medical condition that makes them more susceptible to infections. We will bring you directly to a patient exam room.
Additionally, our staff will be:
- Scheduling well child visits during designated hours, separate from sick visits
- Using separate blocks of rooms for sick visits and well visits to protect healthy kids
- Wearing additional protection such as masks and gloves
- Disinfecting patient care areas more thoroughly and more often
- Available to triage routine concerns so you can avoid unnecessary office visits
- Monitoring the latest information and communicating with local public health officials to keep you safe!
Wishing you well,
Dr. Mehta, Dr. Mitta, and Katie