The response and reporting related to COVID-19 continues to rapidly evolve. The CDC provides outbreak updates and safety information, but families may be wondering what they need to do to keep their child safe. What should they do if their child is sick, and the caregiver suspects COVID-19? Is it safe to go to the emergency department, should they go to their primary care provider, or should they call ahead of a visit?
Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) created resource web pages to answer many of the anticipated questions from those seeking treatment at the hospital and clinics or those looking for safety information.
James Stein, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer at CHLA says the most common questions from parents are whether their kids should be going to school and other events. "This is a constantly evolving situation requiring up-to-date information and guidance with the understanding that what we say today can change quickly," Stein says. "At this point, we are urging hand hygiene and avoiding crowded areas, but we are currently not discouraging kids from attending school. We are reminding families to keep sick kids at home and that advice applies to parents and caregivers as well."
Hospital staff are also working to be good stewards of limited resources. "Our main priority is to provide essential care while preparing for the possibility of treating an increasing number of sick patients," Stein says. "As part of this effort, our lab has developed the capacity to run the diagnostic test for COVID-19."
CHLA's resources for families cover frequently asked questions and offer information in multiple languages. Here are a few of the topics covered:
- What you should know about COVID-19.
- COVID-19: Information for parents and visitors.
- Can face masks help protect me and my family from COVID-19 or other illnesses?
- How to talk to kids about coronavirus.
Talking to kids about COVID-19
Karen Rogers, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at CHLA, provided guidelines for talking to kids about the virus. "So far, [most people in the U.S.] are relatively protected from this epidemic and that's an important message for kids," Rogers says. "It's also important for kids to hear that children seem to be not particularly vulnerable to COVID-19."
Caring for children with medical complexity
The CDC reports so far that most COVID-19 illness is mild. The agency says older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions seem to be at a higher risk of developing serious illness. Stein says CHLA is recommending that children with medically complex conditions reschedule elective doctor appointments at the hospital and clinics for a later date. "We don't want medically complex kids who need to be seen staying away," Stein says. "We have established protocols at the hospital to ensure the safety of all our patients and visitors."
The CDC updates the data on cases in the U.S. at noon Mondays through Fridays and remains the source for up-to-date actions and information. Links relevant to the pediatric and high-risk populations include: