A Q&A about Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
with Dr. Peter Sherman
Chairman of Pediatrics, BronxCare Health System
Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Icahn School of Medicine, Mt. Sinai Medical Center
In an effort to provide our community with helpful information during the coronavirus outbreak, we asked Dr. Peter Sherman, a Board Member of the Bronx Children's Museum, to answer a few questions for families and caregivers.
We are deeply grateful for his participation and willingness to help.
What should I do if I think my child has Covid-19?
If your child has been exposed to COVID-19, or you are concerned about your child's symptoms, call your pediatrician immediately.
What medicines should I have on hand in case my child gets sick?
For fever, I would recommend Tylenol. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend cough and cold medicines for children under 4 years of age. For older children, Robitussin DM has proven somewhat effective for decreasing cough. In children, the goal should be to improve their overall comfort, monitor their activity, look for signs of serious illness, and make sure they drink enough liquids.
The AAP recommends parents talk with their child’s pediatrician about the correct dose before using any medication. Use a medication syringe or dropper to measure the correct amount because they are more reliable than a measuring spoon.
Can I take my child outside?
Going outside is ok, if you practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet away from others. Because COVID-19 spreads from person to person, reducing the ways people come in close contact with each other is essential. Social distancing means staying home as much as possible and avoiding crowded, public places where close contact with others is likely. For essential trips like grocery shopping, the CDC recommends trying to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Are playdates ok during this time?
ABC News (3/20) reported the American Academy of Pediatrics is warning against play dates in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus. On “Good Morning America,” Dr. Sean O’Learly, a member of AAP’s committee on infectious diseases, said people should not get together in-person and that playgrounds should also be avoided. The article then discusses several options, such as social media apps, for children to stay in touch with friends and family.
What should I do if a member of my family gets sick during this time? Should the rest of my family leave the home?
People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are usually able to isolate at home during their illness. However, it may be recommended to take these additional steps:
Separate family members with COVID-19 from others as much as possible. The person with the virus should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Ideally, they should use a separate bathroom, if available. Limit visitors in the house.
Avoid contact with pets. This includes petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
Call ahead before visiting the doctor. This will help them take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
Wear a facemask. The CDC only recommends facemasks for people who have symptoms of COVID-19, not for people who are healthy. Healthcare workers and anyone taking care of someone with COVID-19 should wear facemasks.
Avoid sharing personal household items. Don't share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in the home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
Extra cleaning for all “high-touch" surfaces. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipes and follow the instructions on the label.
Monitor symptoms. Call your doctor right away if the illness gets worse.
What precautions should I take if there is a Grandparent or older adult in the home?
Although you may not exhibit symptoms or may not even contract Coronavirus, you may be a carrier. For this reason, it is recommended that you practice social distancing as best you can if there is an older adult in the home. You can also continue to practice the following to keep your family healthy:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. To help, sing Happy Birthday for 20 seconds.
If soap is not readily available, the use of hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol is acceptable.
Keep your kids away from others who are sick or keep them home if they are ill.
Teach kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue (make sure to throw it away after each use!) or to cough and sneeze into their arm or elbow, not their hands.
Clean and disinfect your home as usual using regular household cleaning sprays or wipes.
Wash stuffed animals or other plush toys, following manufacturer's instructions in the warmest water possible and dry them completely.
What if I feel sick and I don’t have anyone to take care of my child? What precautions can I take for my child? What if the scenario is reversed?
I would contact your doctor or the child’s doctor. Do not seek medical care unless severely ill. If a parent can quarantine themselves, that is the best. If not, use a mask and frequent hand washing and washing of counter tops with bleach.
For more information, Dr. Sherman recommends the following websites and articles:
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
AAP Parenting Website
2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Talking to Children About Disasters
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)