Statement from the providers at Potomac Pediatrics, written by Dr. Joey Mechak
General guidance on COVID-19 Reopenings
June 3, 2020
As our community begins to reopen you may have mixed emotions. You are probably excited and relieved at the idea of leaving your house or that life is on its way to returning to some semblance of normal. At the same time, re-entering the community may also bring some uncertainty and angst about catching the virus and making the right decisions for your family. There are still many unanswered questions about the Coronavirus and as we reopen, many new questions will emerge. What activities are safe? Who needs to wear a mask and where? When can we see grandparents? When can we put our child back in daycare? And many more.
These questions are difficult to answer. These decisions are not black and white or made in isolation. Every family’s situation is different, therefore answers to these questions may be different for you based on the specific needs and health of your family, and your children. However, the general approach we take to these questions, and the approach that we ask you to take as we start to reopen is the same. Of course, if these general guidelines do not address your child’s particular health care situation, please contact us.
It boils down to the following:
1 – Follow Federal, state, and local guidelines. Stay informed. Guidelines, regulations, and recommendations will evolve and change over the coming weeks. Stay up to date using trusted and reliable resources.
- CDC guidance
- Maryland COVID webpage and MarylandStrong Re-opening Roadmap
- Montgomery County COVID-19
- HealthyChildren.org – COVID 19
2 – Stay home if you are sick or exposed. While the case rate is falling across Maryland and the United States, we need to remain diligent about protecting each other.
3 – Reduce your risk. Continue to be mindful and diligent about minimizing risk of infection and spread. This is important for your personal health and the health of our community. Wash your hands. Avoid people with sick symptoms. Stay home if you or anyone in your family is sick. Avoid large crowds. Wear a mask. Follow CDC recommendations.
4 – Weigh risks vs. benefits. When considering when and how to emerge from quarantine, consider all aspects of the situation. Take into account the risk of contracting and spreading the virus, but also your family’s mental health, happiness, priorities, employer policies, childcare availability, financial needs, and anything else that could impact this calculation. Consider the whole picture.
5 – Be respectful. We are all in this together. Everyone is trying to do what is best for their respective families. Remember that individual circumstances are different and not everyone will make the same decisions.
FAQs about reopening
Should I wear a mask?
Yes. In short, the CDC recommends that all adults wear a mask in public. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends that children over the age of 2 should wear a mask, if possible. Children under 2 years old should not wear a mask. For more specifics, recommendations, and tips check out the links below:
- AAP recommendations for masks
- CDC recommendations for masks
- HealthyChildren.org – Cloth face coverings for children during COVID-19
Can my child return to daycare?
First, check local guidelines and laws to see if your child meets criteria to return to child care. Then, weigh the risks vs. benefits of their return. Consider the whole picture. Whatever you decide for your family is the right choice. A few things to keep in mind:
- Ensure that your daycare is following CDC child care and reopening guidelines and cleaning/disinfection standards. For more specifics or questions about other settings, see the following links:
- Remember that contact with other children increases the chance of exposure to the virus. Your child will be exposed to the children in their daycare, and through them, their families and whomever those families have been in recent contact with. Your ‘quarantine circle’ can expand quickly in this sense. Weigh this risk of this exposure in the other decisions you make.
Can we see grandparents?
We want families to reunite. Grandparents are an important part of your child’s life, happiness, development and often a big support for you. However, older people and those with underlying medical issues are at highest risk for hospitalization, complications, and death from Coronavirus. Many grandparents fit this bill. Be very mindful of this risk when making your decision. In addition to considering the health care condition and potential presence of any grandparents’ underlying health care conditions, also Consider your level of exposure to the virus whether or not you are symptomatic before seeing grandparents.
When can family and friends meet my newborn?
Available data does not show that newborns are at higher risk of complications from COVID. However, newborns have little to no immune system when they are born, so we consider any infection to be very serious until they get their vaccinations at 2 months old. Newborns are also, usually, born in a hospital where there may be greater risk of exposure to Coronavirus. A 14-day quarantine after birth would be the safest way to ensure no one contracts Coronavirus from you or your newborn, but again, weigh the risks and benefits of your own situation.
- HealthyChildren.org – Tips for coping with a new baby during COVID-19
- CDC – If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a young child during COVID-19
Can we have play dates?
Your child’s mental health, social development, and happiness are all major factors to consider here. Keep in mind that small gatherings with 1 family that has been strictly isolating will be a far lower risk than larger playgroups. Outdoor, low contact activities (bike riding, hiking, etc.) are lower risk than indoor, close contact activities.
Can we go to the playground?
First, check with local guidelines about if playgrounds are ‘open.’ The data remains unclear about how efficiently the virus spreads on surfaces. Exposure to other children and families sharing the playground is the bigger consideration in this case.
Can we go to the pool?
The data has been pretty clear that the virus does not spread through water. The risk here, again, is contact with others sharing the pool with you.
Can we travel?
There are a lot of factors at play here. First, there are still many federal travel restrictions which may limit your ability to travel. Second, not all travel is created equal. Where you are going, how you are getting there, the make-up of your family, the reason for travel all play a role. Weigh the risks and benefits. Make sure to check Coronavirus activity before you go, and avoid high risk areas
- CDC – Travel
- CDC – Coronavirus Activity in the US
- CDC – COVID data tracker
- MDH – Coronavirus Dashboard
Should I come to my Well Child Check-up?
Yes! The AAP and all of us at Potomac Pediatrics strongly recommend that you attend your check-ups on-time and in-person. Early identification, intervention, and treatment is essential in pediatric medicine. We all agree that the benefits of a routine physical in the office outweigh the risks of infection. It is also vitally important that your child stays on schedule with vaccines to avoid individual risk and resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases.
At Potomac Pediatrics we are taking special precautions to reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission.
- All sick visits have been performed outside the main office since March. No sick child or parents has entered the office since that time.
- All parents and children are screened for COVID-19 symptoms or exposures before entering the office.
- Your doctor has only seen well children on the day of your appointment. Each day, there is a designated ‘sick doctor’ that does not see any well children.
- All providers, nurses, admin staff are wearing masks and checking their temperatures daily.
- We have doubled the amount of disinfectant used in exam rooms between patients
As always, please get in contact with us at the office with any questions or if you need further clarification.