Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ
Over the past few weeks, our advice nurses and pediatricians have fielded hundreds of questions about COVID-19, a new coronavirus with symptoms similar to the common cold or flu. Because the virus is new and spreading globally, it has been covered nonstop by the media, making all of us extra uneasy about the current situation.
We share your concerns, and we want to do our part to help you stay informed and confident in caring for and protecting your family.
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Below are the most-asked questions and our answers to them. We hope you find this information helpful! If there’s anything else we can answer on this FAQ, please send your suggestions to [email protected]. We will update this information regularly.
When we start to worry, let’s all take a step back and remember these comforting realities:
- Children seem to handle the illness better than adults.
- Most people who have gotten sick have recovered.
Now please go wash your hands with soap and water like your health depends on it—for at least 20 seconds—because it does, now more than ever.
Q: My family is having a hard time right now. How can we talk with our pediatrician or behavioral health provider about our COVID-19 worries and concerns?
A: All our providers, including our behavioral health team, are up and running with video visits. If you need to talk about your family’s thoughts, feelings, or daily struggles related to COVID-19, or need advice on how to manage your child’s boredom or behavior during this difficult time, our team is here for you! Please call and ask for a video visit with your child’s primary care provider (PCP) to discuss your challenges at home and your concerns for the greater community. If you need additional resources or help, your PCP will also be able to involve our amazing behavioral health team. We are happy to talk with you—about anything! Let’s connect virtually!
Q: Does my child have coronavirus (COVID-19)?
A: Just like most respiratory viruses, COVID-19 starts with a fever, cold symptoms, and/or cough. If your child develops these symptoms, a cold or flu is more likely to blame than COVID-19. If your child’s symptoms are mild, it’s best to treat them like you would any other illness—stay home, limit contact with household members, practice good hygiene, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. If your child’s symptoms have you concerned, please call us. We can set up a video visit to evaluate your child and determine next steps.
If your child only has some of the other less common symptoms, such as headache or diarrhea without a fever, cold symptoms, and/or cough, you do not need to be worried about COVID-19.
Q: My child may have been exposed. What should I do?
A: Please call us if you believe your child may have been exposed AND is now showing symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cold symptoms, and/or cough. It is important to remain at home so as not to infect other individuals. Our team will schedule a video visit with you to assess your child’s symptoms and discuss what to do next.
Q: How long do symptoms last?
A: The main symptoms of COVID-19—fever, cold symptoms, and/or cough—typically appear within 2-14 days of exposure. How long symptoms last varies per person, but most people recover by two weeks.
Q: Is it safe to bring my child in for a visit?
A: Yes, it is safe to come in for a visit! Metropolitan Pediatrics is taking extra precautions to avoid exposing families to all the viruses going around this time of year:
- Starting 3/25/20, we’re dividing the care we provide into different locations to ensure the safety of our clinic spaces. Most clinics will be dedicated to well care and non-contagious concerns, while our Bridgeport and Happy Valley-Sunnyside locations will look after patients with cold and flu-like symptoms.
- For sick visits at our two response care clinics, we’re masking everyone with respiratory symptoms and rooming them immediately. Providers and MAs are also wearing extra protective gear when they examine patients who don’t feel well.
- While COVID-19 remains a concern, all well visits will have significant pre-screening before families arrive to make sure clinic visitors are healthy and cleared to come in.
- To limit germ sharing, toys and books have been removed from our waiting areas and exam rooms.
- We’ve expanded our telehealth opportunities (video visits) for a variety of visits with providers at all locations! For the time being, EVERY sick visit will start as a video visit to keep germs at home and out of the clinics.
- Our team members are under strict orders to stay home if they become sick, and employees who do not need to be onsite have already transitioned to working from home.
Q: Is it safe to send my child to school?
A: Viruses can spread anywhere people get together. So far, kids seem to experience milder illness than adults, which is a relief. Officials will continue to monitor the situation and do what’s in the best interest of students and staff, which currently means closing all K-12 schools starting Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, April 28. Oregon universities have also been asked to move classes online for the same timeframe.
It’s important that people with symptoms (fever, cold symptoms, and/or cough) stay home. It’s one of the most effective ways to minimize exposure.
Good hygiene habits are everyone’s best defense right now, so please continue to tell kids to:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow (NOT their hands!).
Q: Can I send my child to school or daycare with a cough or runny nose, but no fever?
A: Kids with mild respiratory symptoms, such as a minor cough and/or runny nose, can go to school or daycare if they feel well enough and do not have a fever. Caregivers should encourage frequent handwashing and teach kids how to cover their coughs and sneezes to avoid getting others sick.
Most schools and childcare facilities also have guidelines about when to keep kids home, which might be stricter now due to COVID-19 concerns, so be sure to follow their recommendations as well.
Q: How can I have my child tested for COVID-19?
A: Metropolitan Pediatrics is now able to test patients for COVID-19, but testing supplies are still limited. Our providers will use their clinical judgement to decide who gets tested. At this time, we cannot offer testing by request. If your pediatrician approves testing for your child, a nose swab will be taken and sent out to a local lab for analysis. Results are typically returned within a week. Any positive results will be reported to the Oregon Health Authority.
As of today, we are unsure how all health plans will cover the cost of COVID-19 testing, but many are fully covering the cost of the test.
Q: Is it safe to take my child to public places?
A: Officials have ordered Oregonians to practice social distancing, or staying home and limiting our interactions with one another to prevent more infections. People MUST stay home in order to save lives. Social gatherings of any size are not allowed, unless people stay six feet apart. Certain retail business categories—shopping, fitness, grooming, and entertainment—have been ordered to close, but may offer in-store order pickup. Most parks and playgrounds are closed. Daycares can remain open, with some regulations. Establishments that serve food are restricted to takeout and delivery orders only. All other businesses must put strong social distance measures in place to remain open, including allowing employees to work from home to the extent it’s possible. Failing to comply with these social distancing measures can now get you into legal trouble.
Families should find creative ways to spend time together at home or outdoors, away from others. Going for a walk around the neighborhood or on a family hike are okay ways to get out of the house while still maintaining a safe distance from others.
Q: Should we cancel our travel plans?
A: Under our state’s current “Stay Home, Save Lives” order, Oregonians cannot travel for non-essential reasons. Travel is only allowed to and from work; to get food or other essential consumer needs; to receive education, healthcare, or emergency services; or to look after family members or animals in your care. Fun outings, other than walks and hikes with appropriate physical distancing, and vacations must be put on hold until this order is lifted.
Q: What can our family do to keep us safe?
A: Because there is no vaccine, the best thing people can do is avoid exposure.
- Wash hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water (length of the ABC song), or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when sick.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow (NOT your hands!).
- Keep a two-week supply of food, basic supplies, and medications on hand.
- As this virus continues to spread, consider ways to safely involve the elderly and those with underlying health issues in social events and activities. Stay in touch with phone and video calls, social media, email, a handwritten note, or a special “thinking of you” delivery.
Stay updated on what’s happening with COVID-19: