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Face Masks and COVID-19: Facts vs Myths

With the return to school more certain now, the importance of properly wearing face masks becomes a very important topic. As is true with almost everything about COVID-19, there is a huge amount of “disinformation” out there, even some coming from apparently “reputable” sources.  Here is a link to a column by fellow pediatrician, Dr. Vincent Iannelli, addressing the mask question.  Click on the link below.

KeepKidsHealthy

 

Stay Calm and Look Forward

The Governor reported new “lows” of hospitalizations, intubations and deaths from COVID-19 today. This is great news since everyone anticipated an increase after “reopening” across NY state. We need to pat ourselves on our backs for accomplishing this. But, we also need to continue to be cautious as we look towards the return to school. I have already received some questions about dealing with kids (as well as parents) who are anxious about returning to school. Children about to start kindergarten are even more at risk to experience worries about going to school

We are also receiving inquiries about the safety of schools’ plans.  So far they all need to be approved by the state, but moving forward, I anticpate that all districts will have plans in place that will address the safety of students, faculty and staff. There will most likely be a spectrum of plans with student attending classes 4 days a week (Wednesdays are scheduled to be cleaning days), a hybrid model or a full virtual model.  The American Academy of Pediatrics still feels it is best for children to return to school if it can be done in a safe manner – that is the $64,000 question.

We anticipate starting influenza vaccines after Labor Day if our inventory comes in on time.  I also have an order in for reagent to perform rapid COVID-19 antigen testing in the office.  I am just waiting for the supplies to become available.

In the meantime, let’s stay calm and look forward to continued reopening of our state.

COVID-19 Testing Changes

Over the past few weeks, I have received a number of requests for COVID-19 testing for return to college, for patients who have been exposed at outings and are without symptoms, and for a number of other reasons. I have tried to accomodate these requests in the office. However, it turns out that there is again a shortage of tests in the area due to needs elsewhere in the nation.

Rochester Regional Health Labs are no longer able to provide asymptomatic testing for the following indications:

  • Close Contacts Close contact with a COVID positive individual (“close contact” meaning less than 6 feet for at least 10 minutes, both parties not masked)
  • Quarantine Individuals subject to a mandatory or voluntary quarantine (includes return from travel to restricted states, including RRH employees)
  • Other Includes students, faculty or staff returning to schools/colleges/universities, those needing testing for travel to other states, countries etc.

For the above three categories asymptomatic patients should be directed to utilize testing services available at Monroe Community College, or other testing sites at pharmacies and urgent care centers.

I will need to abide by these new criteria and will only be able to test and send for patients who are symptomatic.

School – What To Do?

The quick answer to this question is “I don’t know?” As I have previously stated, the American Academy of Pediatrics advocates for the return to school in person if possible, taking into account the safety of the children, teachers and staff. NY has finally started to outline some of the requirements to do this. But, it remains up to the individual districts to come up with plans and contingencies.  I really cannot provide guidance when I don’t know what we are looking at.

I also have been fielding questions about the possibility of a vaccine and whether or not children should receive it. Again, we don’t have a vaccine, don’t know how available it will be, what populations will be targeted to receive it, will it be available for children. So, again, I don’t know. Theoretically, if there is an effective safe vaccine that is indicated for children and available, I would “theoretically” say, yes it is a good idea to immunize children.

In the meantime, use your commonsense and stay safe.

School Reopening – The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Position

As a pediatrician, father, and grandfather, I recognize the struggles that many families had with distance learning this spring. In response, my national organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), has released a document that supports a return to in-person learning by emphasizing the following:

1)     It appears that schools were not significant contributors to the initial spread of the coronavirus or spread to adults.

2)     Studies have shown that children tend to become infected from adults with whom they live, not from other interactions.

3)     There is significant emotional and family stress that occurs in the distance learning environment as implemented in the spring of 2020.

4)     Changes in the physical environment of the school, the schedule, and class rules (such as masking, spacing, and keeping children in smaller groups) can further protect the children, teachers and staff from COVID.

The full document can be found at https://qrgo.page.link/gKYXb or you can scan the QR code.

I feel that local, state, and national leaders need to dedicate more resources and funding to address this challenge so that children and families have adequate education plans and resources for the upcoming year. Please help us direct their attention to this pressing need by sharing the document on your social media feeds and tagging your local (school boards, mayors), state (governors, education departments), and federal (representatives, senators and president) leaders, using the hashtag #SafelyOpenSchools.

Finally, the best way to ensure that we can reopen in the fall is to mask up, maintain physical distance and avoid large gatherings.

 

Stay Calm and Careful

The questions of the past week have been related to exposures to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Basically, “we have been exposed to someone who subsequently tested positive, what do I watch for? What should I do?”

There are 2 aspects to this issue. 1) As we start to expand our social contacts, it is only logical that we will be more likely to come in contact with someone who tests positive. Hopefully the people you are meeting with are conscientious about their contacts too. 2) With more people being tested at the suggestion of our governor to get teste.

d or because of preprocedure testing, we see more positive tests in people who do not have symptoms.

So, what to do? If you are exposed to someone who tests positive, you need to quarantine yourselves for 14 days. You do not need to be tested unless you develop symptoms and the results of the test will help determine how you are treated. If you want to seek out a test, you can, but the results will not necessarily change how you are treated.

If you have questions about what to do, the best source of information is the Monroe County Health Department’s COVID-19 Hotline at 753-5555.

But avoiding unnecessary contact with others is the best way to keep yourselves safe. The “pandemic” is definitely not over.

Return to School and Childcare

The American Academy of Pediatrics has published 2 articles addressing return to school and childcare with COVID-19 infections on the rise nationally. (although at a new low in NY State and the finger lakes region).

Please check out the following at www.healthychildren.org

Return to School.

Return to Childcare

And as always, please stay calm, stay safe and carry on cautiously.

COVID-19 Testing

I recently have received calls about testing for COVID-19. Here is a article from the American Academy of Pediatrics that might help clear some things up. 

What type of coronavirus test should my child get?
Trisha Korioth, Staff Writer
June 23, 2020
Editor’s note: For the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic, visit https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/01/28/coronavirus.

Families across the U.S. are talking about whether their children should be tested for COVID-19.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to talk to their child’s pediatrician about testing.

There are two types of COVID-19 tests: diagnostic tests and antibody tests. It is important to know what each test can and cannot do.

diagnostic test can show if your child has COVID-19 infection now.

One kind of diagnostic test is a molecular test. It uses a nasal or throat swab or sometimes saliva. You might get results the same day or up to a week later. The molecular test is very accurate and tells you if your child has SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It will not tell if your child had COVID-19 in the past. It also will not tell you that your child will not become infected in the future.

Another kind of diagnostic test is an antigen test. It uses a nasal or throat swab. Results take an hour or less. Positive test results are very accurate. But if the test result is negative, a molecular test might be needed so you know for sure that your child does not have the virus that causes COVID-19.

An antibody test looks for antibodies in your child’s blood. The body makes antibodies to fight off viruses like SARS-CoV-2. An antibody test uses a sample of blood. It shows if your child was infected by coronavirus in the past. It cannot detect current COVID-19 infection. This is because it can take up to three weeks after your child first shows symptoms of being sick before the test can find antibodies in the blood sample. Many test locations can give you results the same day or within one to three days. Sometimes, a second antibody test is needed.

The AAP does not recommend testing every child. It is important to talk with your pediatrician about whether testing is necessary and if so, what option is best. Testing might be recommended for a child who currently has symptoms of COVID-19 or who was in close contact with someone with COVID-19. After testing, it is important to follow up with your pediatrician. She or he can explain positive or negative test results and answer questions. It is not known if people who had COVID-19 can catch it again.

If you have any concerns about your child’s health, call us. We are open and available for any concerns or questions. 

Continued Good News

Listening to Governor Cuomo, NY state continues to have a good handle on COVID-19 for now.  The rate of postive tests in the Finger Lakes Region continues to drift downward. The number of positive tests has dropped from 2.6% to 2.5% over the past month. A seemingly small drop, but certainly not an increase as we begin to resume more “normal” activities.  Overall, the number of deaths in the US has exceeded those as a result of WW I.  Nationwide, the number of new cases and deaths continues to rise, especially in states that reopened without any specific plan. 

We have been “on pause” for 95 days. With school now “officially out,” and a strong desire to do more, please be careful.  Welcome to summer 2020.

A Note of Caution

As the Finger Lakes region moves into phase 3 of the reopening, I want urge you all to be cautious. Although all the indicators in our area are moving in the right direction, the nation is seeing some surges in states that reopened “early” and “quickly.” The number of cases has topped 2 million. Locally, the percentage of positive tests has been at an all time low since the beginning of the pandemic. Monday 1%, Tuesday 0.3% and Wednesday 1.1%. There has been a slight, possibly not significant, uptick in the rate of postive tests across the state. Hopefully, this is not a new trend. But, as we continue to move through the reopening with more potential contacts with others, please be careful.