Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ
Over the pandemic, our advice nurses and pediatricians have fielded thousands of questions about COVID-19. We share your concerns and want to do our part to help you stay informed and confident in caring for and protecting your family.
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.
- There’s a COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12+!
For vaccine-specific questions and answers, see our COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ.
Q: What is the Delta variant?
A: The Delta variant is a new strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It was first identified in India in December 2020 and is now the dominant strain in the U.S. This variant is more contagious than other strains and spreading quickly in areas with lower vaccination rates.
Here’s more information on other variants circulating in the United States: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant.html
Q: How do I know if I have the Delta variant?
A: If you become infected with COVID-19 right now, odds are that you have the Delta variant. Standard COVID-19 tests can’t tell the difference between variants, but we know that Delta is the dominant strain circulating in Oregon. It’s also the most contagious! Additionally, the Delta variant may have slightly different symptoms. People commonly report headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever. Persistent cough and loss of smell seem to be less common with this strain.
Q: How does the Delta variant affect children?
A: We’re still trying to understand how the Delta variant affects kids. So far, there is no evidence that this variant is any more dangerous to children than other variants. We do know that it spreads more easily from person-to-person, so we must be extra careful and take precautions to minimize risk. Hands down, COVID-19 vaccines are the most effective intervention we have, and they’re doing a good job of preventing severe illness and death. Beyond vaccines, keep wearing masks in public (even if you’re fully vaccinated), washing hands often, and making smart choices about where you go and what you do to avoid exposure. It takes all of us, doing our part, to protect kids who are too young to be vaccinated and other vulnerable members of our community.
Q: Should my child return to daycare with numbers so high and the new strain being so much more contagious?
A: Studies have shown that daycares and schools do pretty well at preventing COVID-19 transmission. Generally, transmission rates in these settings tend to match what we see in the community. For the social, emotional, and learning benefits provided, experts recommend that kids return in person, with safety measures in place. Check in with your child’s daycare or school about their COVID-19 protocols. The safest environment will have multiple layers of protection. Look for things like vaccine promotion, universal masking for ages two and older, physical distancing, ventilation, symptom screening and testing policies, handwashing and germ etiquette, and cleaning and disinfecting practices. All these things, when done together, can significantly help reduce viral transmission.
Additionally, there are some things you can do to make returning safer: get everyone in your family who’s eligible vaccinated, catch your kiddos up on any vaccines they missed during the pandemic, and stay home when sick.
Q: Can I get my kid tested, so that they can return to daycare sooner after exposure?
A: After an exposure, your child may be able to end quarantine early (before 14 days) if no symptoms develop. Your local public health authority with let you know if a shorter quarantine is an option. If recommended, your child can end quarantine after seven days with a negative test on day five or later. Metropolitan Pediatrics can provide testing needed to end quarantine early. Please call us, and we’ll make arrangements to swab your child at our office.
Q: What are the quarantine instructions now?
A: After a close-contact exposure, Oregon Health Authority requires a 14-day quarantine. If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re excused from quarantining unless you have symptoms. However, the CDC now recommends that fully vaccinated people get tested three to five days after exposure. Please wear a mask in public settings for 14 days after the exposure or until a negative test result.
Close contact means spending 15 minutes near someone with COVID-19 in a 24-hour period. Near is considered within six feet and minutes throughout the day are added up for a total of 15. It doesn’t matter if either person was wearing a mask.
Q: When should my child be tested and why?
A: Testing is currently recommended for kids and adults with COVID-19 symptoms, for most people after a close-contact exposure (unless you’ve had COVID-19 during the past 90 days and don’t have new symptoms), and unvaccinated people whose activities put them at higher risk for COVID-19 (e.g., travel or attending a large event). If you’re getting tested because you have symptoms or might have been exposed to the virus, you should stay away from others while you wait for your test results.
If your test comes back positive, you’ll know and be able to take steps to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others. You will need to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or from the date of your positive test.
Information about caring for someone with COVID-19 is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html
Q: Is it safe to travel?
A: The answer depends on your vaccination status. If you’re not fully vaccinated, delay travel. If you are fully vaccinated, you can travel safely within the United States. While traveling, wear a mask and continue to take all COVID-19 precautions. If you’re considering international travel, check the COVID-19 situation at your intended destination to help gauge if it’s safe to go.
Q: What should we be doing differently now that the Delta variant is more prevalent in our community?
A: Just as things were starting to relax, the Delta variant came and reminded us that we can’t let our guard down yet. For the most part, we know what we need to do to stay safe: get vaccinated if you’re eligible, wear a mask in public indoor and outdoor settings (even if you’re fully vaccinated), wash your hands often, and minimize risk of exposure where you can.
As far as new guidance, the CDC now recommends that fully vaccinated people get tested three to five days after a close-contact exposure. Please wear a mask in public settings for 14 days after the exposure or until a negative test result.
If your child is 12 or older, please plan to get them vaccinated before school starts! Vaccination is the best way to prevent hospitalization and death. Your whole family, ages 12 to 64, can get vaccinated at Metropolitan Pediatrics. With the Pfizer vaccine, it takes two doses and five weeks to reach full protection, so don’t wait.
Does my child have COVID-19?
Just like most respiratory viruses, COVID-19 starts with a fever, cold symptoms, and/or cough. 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 is having fever and/or cold symptoms, and you are interested in testing for COVID-19, we can provide that. Please call your provider’s office for an appointment.
We’re seeing a rare condition, called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), that causes inflammation and poor organ function following COVID-19 infection. Children with MIS-C look sick. Symptoms are generally more severe and include ongoing fever, abdominal pain, rash or changes in skin color, trouble breathing, or your child seems confused or overly sleepy.
As of May 12, 2021, there have been 35 cases of MIS-C reported in Oregon. We’re still trying to understand how this virus affects the human body, especially children, and will be keeping a watchful eye on any new developments. Thankfully, complications of COVID-19 remain very rare in kids, with most experiencing mild or no symptoms.
What if my child has some of the symptoms: red eyes, rash, diarrhea, cough?
These symptoms are common with many different viruses; however, if your child’s symptoms have you concerned, please call us. All Metropolitan Pediatrics locations are currently open, and our team is available to help support you through this time. We’re here to talk and can also set up a video visit to evaluate your child and determine next steps.
My child may have been exposed. What should I do?
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’s 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.
How long do symptoms last?
The main symptoms of COVID-19—fever, cold symptoms, and/or cough—typically appear within two to 14 days of exposure. How long symptoms last varies per person, but most people recover by two weeks.
Is it safe to bring my child in for a visit?
Yes, it’s 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:
- Many of our providers and team members are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19!
- All individuals (ages 2+) who enter Metropolitan Pediatrics must wear a face mask, including when in exam rooms.
- We have divided our clinics to provide separate care for well patients and patients with contagious symptoms. Most clinics have resumed both types of care, with enhanced safety measures and divisions in place.
- We’ve expanded our telehealth opportunities (video visits) for a variety of visit types with providers at all locations! While COVID-19 remains a concern, sick patient visits will start as a video visit. For well visits, we give families the option to come in or do a staged visit that’s part virtual, part in-office care. This helps us limit potential exposures and meet Oregon’s physical distancing requirements.
- All well visits have significant pre-screening before families arrive to make sure clinic visitors are healthy and cleared to come in.
- Patients with cold and flu-like symptoms are roomed immediately, and the providers and MAs caring for them wear extra protective gear during the visit.
- To limit germ sharing, toys and books have been removed from our waiting areas and exam rooms.
- Our team members are under strict orders to stay home if they become sick, and employees who do not need to be onsite have transitioned to working from home.
How can I have my child tested for COVID-19?
Metropolitan Pediatrics offers rapid COVID-19 testing for patients by appointment only. Due to a widespread supply shortage, rapid testing is currently reserved for children with symptoms. Send-out testing is available for children without symptoms. If your pediatrician approves rapid testing for your child, a nose swab will be taken and processed in our office. Results are typically returned within 15 minutes up to a few hours, depending on the volume of tests in line. Send-out test results usually come back within one to two days. Any positive results will be reported to the Oregon Health Authority.
Most health plans cover the cost of COVID-19 testing related to the pandemic.
My family is having a hard time right now. How can we talk with our provider about our COVID-19 worries and concerns?
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 personal challenges and 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’re happy to talk with you about anything!
What are Oregon's mask requirements?
To help slow the spread of the Delta variant, Oregon has reinstated a mask mandate for everyone ages 5+ in both indoor public settings and outdoors where you can’t maintain physical distance. Additionally, masks are required on public transportation for everyone ages 2+. Masking provides significant protection for unvaccinated individuals and is an added layer of protection for vaccinated folks. Although rare, breakthrough cases (when fully vaccinated people get COVID-19) are possible.
Some places may have additional masking requirements. Learn more about Oregon’s mask requirements in airports, healthcare settings, K-12 schools, and other places where the rules may be different.
Though not mandated, face masks are strongly encouraged for kids between the ages of two and four, and many places have mask polices that apply to this age group. Masks are required for all children ages 2+ when they are in our offices. The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics state that children under two should not wear a mask.
Oregon Health Authority also recommends wearing face masks at private get-togethers involving two or more households.
How can I make sure my mask offers the most protection?
Masks are most effective when they fit snugly against your face and have multiple layers. There are several things you can do to improve your mask’s fit, such as choosing a mask with a nose wire, using a mask fitter or brace, and adding additional layers. To add layers, choose a cloth mask with multiple layers or double up by wearing a disposable mask with a cloth mask over it. You can also try the knot & tuck trick to get a better fit with disposable masks.
The CDC advises against wearing two disposable masks at once or combining a KN95 mask with any other mask.