At Children’s Wisconsin, we have received a lot of questions about coronavirus and want to assure you we are closely monitoring and adjusting to the current situation. Managing and treating infectious diseases is part of what we do every day. But we need your help. Here are the basics on what coronavirus is and how you can help prevent its spread.
What is coronavirus?
It may surprise you to know that coronavirus isn’t new — there are many types of coronaviruses that commonly cause mild illnesses in humans. However, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new version of coronavirus that we haven’t seen before.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Others can get sick when they inhale those droplets, or touch their mouth, nose or eyes after touching a surface where those droplets have landed.
It’s important to note that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most cases of COVID-19 have occurred in adults, and although infections in children have been reported, they’ve been relatively uncommon.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
So far, children with COVID-19 have had cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have occurred as well, but less frequently. The few cases in children so far have generally shown mild symptoms, while severe complications have been uncommon.
As with other respiratory illnesses, children with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk of severe infection. This is something we work through every day at Children’s Wisconsin as we frequently see children with serious health conditions. We have specific procedures and facilities to help those children.
How can we help prevent COVID-19?
Practices that we use every day to help prevent other viruses will be the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and will be more effective than wearing a face mask like you might have seen in the news. Just like with flu season, you should help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by covering coughs, cleaning hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and staying up to date on vaccinations, including influenza.
If you are sick, you should stay home, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue then throw the tissue in the trash, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
How is Children’s Wisconsin adjusting?
Children’s Infection Prevention team is actively monitoring and adjusting for COVID-19. We are relying on things we always do at Children’s Wisconsin to help and have started new practices.
We have enhanced our clinic appointment and hospital visitor restrictions to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. In our primary and specialty care clinics, only one caregiver (and no siblings) will be allowed to accompany a child to an appointment. In our hospitals in Milwaukee and Neenah and at our Surgicenter, patients can only have one individual over the age of 12 visit at a time (and two people on their visitor list).
We have certain protocols and facilities that allow us to separate highly infectious patients and our experienced Infection Prevention, Emergency and leader teams are developing a plan specific to COVID-19 that will allow us to use those protocols and facilities even more efficiently.
We are learning more every day about coronavirus and our expertise in infectious disease is helping us assess and adjust where needed. We know the signs and symptoms and are doing everything possible to alleviate fear and increase our readiness. And as always, we will remain focused on providing the best and safest care and protecting our children and families, staff, visitors and community.
When should you call your doctor with COVID-19 concerns?
You should call your family doctor or pediatrician if your child has the above symptoms AND has been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19. Please consider an online urgent care video visit or call your doctor before going to a doctor’s office, urgent care location or hospital.
Where can I find more information?
You can also find some tips for talking to your child about COVID-19 on our blog.