Common Coronavirus Questions Answered by our Pediatricians

Receiving current and accurate information from a trusted source is important. Please keep in mind this is changing on a daily basis.

 

Contributions by Mindy L. Calandro, MD, FAAP | March 20, 2020

Social distancing and flattening the curve…what does it all mean?

The terms “social distancing” and “flatten the curve” have become household nomenclature in the past week, but do you know why these ideas are so important right now? There’s a lot that we don’t know about the novel Coronavirus causing our current pandemic, but one thing we do know for sure is that it is spread person to person by coughing, sneezing, or any kind of respiratory droplets. We want to reduce the number of people that we are each exposed to as each person that is around us can “share” their respiratory droplets with all of those around them. By keeping our distance from one another, we are hoping to slow the spread of this virus. The idea of “social distancing” is why schools, restaurants, churches, movie theaters, stores and just about any event that has more than 10 people in the same area has been canceled.

That brings me to the idea of “flattening the curve.”  The “curve” we are talking about here is the number of people expected to become infected with COVID-19.  With novel viruses such as this strain of coronavirus, we can expect that much of the population will eventually get the virus since we do not have immunity to this virus (each time your body sees a virus, the immune system will make cells that will help to “remember” the virus should you body see it again.  If the body is presented with the same virus in the future, these “remember cells” can help to fight off the virus before it will even make you ill).  You see that steep, pink curve on the graph below? That is what happens when an entire population becomes infected with a virus around the same time.  The number of sick people rapidly exceeds the capacity of healthcare systems to care for those that are ill.  This is what happened in Italy with COVID-19.  Such a large number of people ill with the virus at the same time to where there were no hospital beds available for all of those that needed hospital care.  If we practice social distancing and can keep COVID-19 from spreading like wildfire through our communities, then we can flatten the curve and hopefully prevent overwhelming our medical systems.

Contributions by Mindy L. Calandro, MD, FAAP | March 20, 2020

How about a play-date?

I have had plenty of families asking me if play-dates with friends is ok during school closures. If we view this time just as we would a surprise snow day or summer break, then we have missed the mark for social distancing. If we have any hope of slowing the spread of the Coronavirus (notice I said slowing the spread and not stopping the spread), then we all must work together to limit our contact with others. While calling several friends to see about a play-date for a group of children is certainly a tempting break from trying to navigate the waters of e-learning, I would really advise against it.

Now I know that everyone is probably already getting stir crazy, and I will tell you that I believe we still have a long way to go before this social distancing is over, so what things can you do during this time?  Going outside to play is ok as long as you are keeping your social circle the same (i.e. basically your family and those you are already around on a daily basis).  How about a playground? I think this depends.  If there is no one else at the playground, proceed with caution.  Make sure to wash your child’s hands with soap and water as soon as you leave the playground and even change their clothes when you get home.  How about playing outside in the yard? Completely fine again as long as those playing are your usual daily social circle.  Have a set time each day that your child can connect with their friends on Facetime or perhaps allow a group of friends to play video games together (of course, with help from parents to establish online groups for video games).  You can plan to watch a Broadway play online one day, take a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo the next day, and take a virtual tour through the Guggenheim the next day.  It really is amazing what online resources have become available in just the past week!