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 six months and older!
For vaccine-specific questions and answers, see our COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ.
Q: What is a variant? Which variants should we be concerned about?
A: Viruses change constantly, and sometimes those changes (mutations) result in a new strain (variant). Some variants make the rounds while others disappear completely. This is normal and expected virus behavior.
The Omicron variant is now the dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States. It is more contagious than the previously dominant Delta variant, but symptoms are less severe. The Omicron variant continues to spread quickly in areas with lower vaccination rates.
Here’s more information about variants circulating in the United States.
Q: How do I know if I have the Omicron variant?
A: If you become infected with COVID-19 right now, odds are that you have the Omicron variant. Standard COVID-19 tests can’t tell the difference between variants, but we know that Omicron is the dominant strain circulating in Oregon.
Q: How does the Omicron variant affect children?
A: We’re still trying to understand how the Omicron 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 great 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 school or daycare with the Omicron variant being so much more contagious?
A: Studies have shown that schools and daycares 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 school or daycare about their COVID-19 protocols. The safest environment will have multiple layers of protection. Look for things like vaccine promotion, encouraged 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: What should we do if a family member is exposed to or tests positive for COVID-19?
A: If someone in your family is exposed to COVID-19, they should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and test on day five.
If someone in your family has possible COVID-19 symptoms, they should stay home and away from others until they can test. Home antigen tests are more accurate with two tests over a 48-hour period. With two negative test results, they may end isolation.
If someone in your family tests positive for COVID-19, they should stay home and away from others for at least five days. If they are fever-free for 24 hours (without meds) and feeling better after five days, they may end isolation, and then wear a high-quality mask through day 10. After a positive diagnosis, it’s safest to stay away from people who could get very sick from COVID-19 for all 10 days. Those with severe COVID-19 symptoms and weakened immune systems should isolate at home for 10 days and discuss their recovery timeline with their doctor.
Please call us if you have any questions or concerns about your child and COVID-19. Our advice nurses are available 24/7, and we can schedule a video visit with you to assess your child’s symptoms and discuss next steps together.
Q: When should my child be tested and why?
A: Testing is currently recommended for kids and adults who have symptoms or who were exposed to someone with COVID-19, and it has been at least five days since exposure. If you have symptoms, stay home while you wait for your test results. If you do not have symptoms, wear a mask around others while you wait for your test results.
If your test comes back positive, you’ll need to isolate for at least five days from the onset of symptoms or from the date of your positive test, followed by five days of wearing a mask around others. Your symptoms must be resolved before ending isolation.
Here’s more information about caring for someone with COVID-19.
Q: How can I have my child tested for COVID-19?
A: Metropolitan Pediatrics offers rapid COVID-19 testing for patients by appointment only. This will include an office visit charge for your time with the medical provider. If your pediatrician approves rapid testing for your child, a nose or combo throat/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. We cannot guarantee lab turnaround time for send-out testing, which is currently a few days. Any positive results will be reported to Oregon Health Authority.
Most health plans cover the cost of COVID-19 testing related to the pandemic.
Q: What should we be doing differently now that the Omicron variant is more prevalent in our community?
A: Omicron reminds 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 settings (even if you’re fully vaccinated and it’s optional), wash your hands often, and minimize risk of exposure where you can.
The CDC recommends that everyone gets tested at least five days after exposure to someone with COVID-19. Please wear a mask around others for 10 days after exposure or until a negative test result.
If your child is six months or older, please get them vaccinated. Vaccination is the best way to prevent hospitalization and death. Your whole family ages six months to 64 years can get vaccinated at Metropolitan Pediatrics.
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.
We’re still trying to understand how this virus affects the human body, especially children, and we’ll 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.
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:
- 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’ve divided our clinics into two sections to provide separate care for well patients and patients with contagious symptoms.
- We’ve expanded our telehealth opportunities (video visits) for a variety of visit types with providers at all locations. This helps us prevent potential exposures.
- 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.
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!
Is it safe to travel?
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.
What are Oregon's mask requirements?
In response to the downward trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) ended the indoor mask mandate in most public spaces.
OHA will still require face masks in healthcare settings until further notice. Please continue to wear a mask when visiting our offices, so we can safely care for all our families. By working together, we will provide a safe space for our most vulnerable patients, including those too young to be vaccinated, to receive essential care. And don’t worry if you forget your mask, we’re happy to provide one for you.
- Metropolitan Pediatrics requires all visitors two years of age and older to wear a face mask during their visit, including in the exam room.
Although masks are optional in most indoor public spaces, we encourage families to assess their own level of risk and decide what works for their family going forward. It’s still more protective for kids to continue masking in class for a while, especially as we learn how this change will affect community spread. And it’s particularly important for those with vulnerable loved ones to continue masking inside public places as an added layer of protection.
Masking is not recommended for children younger than two.
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.