As leaders of the three Baltimore children’s hospitals, we know that it is a stressful time for families, and we are here to help. As is always the case, we are here to serve children and families, to improve and protect their health and well-being. During this challenging time where everyone is adapting to new public health recommendations, we would like to provide you with key information about what to do to protect the health and well-being of your children and your family (“Do you have a fever, cough and suspect coronavirus? Here’s what to do,” March 16).
In general, children have more a mild illness from COVID-19 compared to adults. To keep you and your family safe, practice social distancing — staying six feet apart when possible — and teach your children to wash their hands frequently.
Unless you believe your child needs urgent medical attention, call your child’s pediatrician before coming to the doctor’s office or any health care facility for evaluation. Pediatric clinicians across the state are trying to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and the safest place for children to be is in their own homes.
If your child has a fever or mild respiratory symptoms that can be managed at home, please keep the child home and assume he or she is contagious. Limit contact with friends, family members and others for 72 hours after the fever is gone and symptoms have improved and at least seven days from the day symptoms started.
Avoiding the emergency department minimizes risk of infection for you, your child and other vulnerable populations including elderly family members, those who are immuno-compromised and health care staff. The emergency department is not a location for COVID-19 testing for most children.
If your children are exposed to someone who has COVID-19, keep them home for at least 14 days after being exposed and watch for symptoms. If symptoms develop, call their pediatric provider. He or she can assist you in understanding how to support your childrens’ recovery and determine if testing is appropriate. In general, the vast majority of children will not meet criteria for testing and should be quarantined at home.
We also must continue to keep children safe from other conditions and circumstances that can put their health and well-being at risk. Pediatricians will continue to prioritize vaccinations for infants who are still at risk of severe illness from other types of infections.
This is a unique time and we are here for parents and families to discuss their questions as well as other needs they have including providing information on how to access food and deal with the stress that comes with the uncertainty and drastic changes to daily life that are occurring in response to the pandemic.
Keep your children and yourself healthy! We are here for you and we will get through this together.
Scott Krugman and Aziza Shad, Tina Cheng, and Steven J. Czinn, Baltimore
The writers are, respectively, pediatricians leading the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai, the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
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