This story was posted on Saturday March 14, 2020. The information on coronavirus, suggested protocols, community information and more is changing rapidly. Please consult the CDC, the CT Department of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics for up to date information. For local help and info, visit GreenwichHospital.org or call 833-ASK-YNHH. 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 you are sick? Should we cancel spring break plans? To answer some of our many questions related to coronavirus, we spoke to local pediatrician Katherine Noble, MD (“Dr. Katy”), who is the Medical Advisor to the Greenwich Public School System and Founder & Managing Partner, Sound Beach Pediatrics. Here’s what she shared with us about how she is preparing her patients, her own family, and more:
As of today, what should parents be doing to protect themselves and their kids from coronavirus?
I have been pointing parents towards reliable resources (CDC, AAP and the CT Department of Public Health) as the landscape of this disease is changing rapidly. I encourage families to use a no-nonsense, common-sense approach – hand washing, covering mouths when coughing, avoiding touching face/eyes as possible. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html Abide by social distancing principals as much as possible as well—consider that social gatherings of adults and children are a means to spread infection.
Do you feel like the media has overstated how serious Coronavirus is/how prevalent it may become?
No doubt the media reports are fueling public anxiety! But the recent rapid spread in New Rochelle and in other communities seems to support how serious this infection is and how quickly it can spread. It’s extremely important to stay informed, to monitor how this disease is spreading, and to make responsible choices for your family.
What are you doing to protect your own family?
We are taking the same standard precautions I recommend for my patients, which is to forgo unnecessary travel. I have spent time talking to own my children about the fact that COVID-19 seems to cause relatively minor disease in their age group, and that it is more dangerous for elderly patients especially with chronic disease. We stay away from grandparents when we are sick, no matter what the cause!
If a child or parent does have a respiratory illness/fever, what should they do?
I suggest following the practical guidance of the AAP (Statement 2.28.20). As Dr. Ann-Christine Nyquist, a member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases stated: “If they have a runny nose, they have a runny nose. If they have a difficult time breathing, they should seek care.”
But if you believe you or your family has had an exposure to COVID-19, contact your local health department right away. The Yale COVID-19 Call Center is another excellent resource. Call your physician’s office for advice … do NOT walk in unannounced. Local testing is now offered at Greenwich Hospital in a special tent, set up to safely obtain respiratory samples for COVID-19 testing. Patients must be referred by their physician and follow a strict protocol. I am confident that testing technology will improve and testing options will increase over time. Local COVID-19 testing stations are expected soon, as the President Trump mentioned 3.13.2020.
Should we be changing our usual routines – playdates/birthdays at indoor play spaces etc.?
With the recently reported local COVID-19 cases (3/12/20), and cancellations of school and larger events, I would suggest keeping social activities to small gatherings with healthy individuals and practice social distancing as much as possible.
Do you recommend cancelling spring break air travel?
I am now advising families to avoid unnecessary travel. It is important to understand that a new travel restriction during your trip may result in a quarantine upon your return.
Should we be stockpiling months of food?
There are helpful general CDC guidelines on emergency preparedness: https://emergency.cdc.gov/planning/index.asp. I have not been promoting the stockpiling of food, medication or supplies. I think panic is one of our worst enemies(this has been borne out in our financial markets). Hoarding supplies of any kind creates shortages, more problems, and hurts those who need help the most. I’m not doing it, and I don’t advise others to do so either.
Which is safer—grocery delivery or venturing into a store?
I’m not aware of any official studies on this topic, but online shopping provides a very practical option to avoid public places. (I’ve been ordering my groceries online for a long time because it’s more efficient anyways for me as a working mom!)
Anything else you’d like to share?
Please stay informed, calm and positive! Negativity and anxiety breed more of the same. I am working daily to develop and maintain an informed, balanced approach to this health care problem. I encourage families to do the same! Our children do not benefit from uncontrolled parental anxiety. To the extent we can manage our own natural worry and guide our families to make responsible decisions day to day, we will get through this challenging time in better form! Walks and hikes in fresh air and creative home activities for your children will help us all adjust to the new norm!
More info from Sound Beach Pediatrics:
For questions and concerns about COVID-19, you can call Yale New Haven Health’s call center at 203-688-1700.
If you are concerned about a possible exposure, please contact your local health department.
- CT: 860-509-7994; After Hours: 860-509-8000
- NY: 914-813-5159; After Hours: 914-813-5000
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Updates on COVID-19
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
(Latest updates, tips on prevention and treatment, and info on symptoms)
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – FAQ Coronavirus Disease – 2019 (COVID-19) and Children
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel
Healthy Children – 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
(Info on symptoms and risks, how to talk to children about the coronavirus, and how to protect your family)
Healthy Children – Hand Washing: A Powerful Antidote to Illness
(Steps to proper hand washing)