During this pandemic, Dr. Phillips agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) that it is very important for children to continue to receive medical care and stay up to date on vaccinations. We continue to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of your child and family, including separating sick and well spaces in the clinic, performing covid screenings at separate times from well visits, Telehealth appointments, curbside check-in and visits, and enhanced cleaning procedures in the office.
What is COVID-19
COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of Coronavirus, which is a family of common viruses that tend to cause cold symptoms in people. This one is unique in that it is more contagious and causes more severe illness, including more deaths, than the typical Coronavirus. Luckily, children generally have milder symptoms than adults. It spreads from person-to-person from respiratory droplets that are produced wh en an infected person coughs or sneezes.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Thankfully, children tend to have mild illnesses from COVID-19. Symptoms of COVID-19 include sinus congestion, sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and/or loss of taste or smell. Some patients have no symptoms at all. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19, but anyone can develop mild to severe symptoms.
How is COVID-19 treated?
Most pediatric patients with COVID-19 recover by resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and using fever/pain-reducing medications. There are no antibiotics that will treat COVID-19 due to it being a viral illness. In some cases, patients will require hospitalization and more advanced treatment.
How do we prevent the spread of COVID-19?
You can protect yourself and others from COVID-19 by taking these precautions:
- Stay home when possible
- Practice social distancing by staying 6 feet apart from others when possible.
- Wear a mask when you are outside of your home and cannot maintain social distancing from others. We require that all visitors and patients over the age of 2 wear a mask when inside our office.
- Wash hands often with water and soap (20 seconds or longer) or use hand sanitizer (without Methanol) when hand washing isn’t possible.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands or after touching surfaces.
- Clean and disinfect “High-Touch” surfaces often.
- Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals.
- Make sure to get your daily dose of Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D, and sunshine during this Pandemic.
- After exposure to COVID-19, you must quarantine based on guidelines per the CDC and MSDH. You are legally required by the state of Mississippi to practice current quarantine guidelines regardless of what your job, school, or outside entity says.
Who needs to quarantine?
It is recommended that anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 quarantines for 14-days after the last date of exposure.
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
What Counts as Close Contact?
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- You had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them).
- You shared eating or drinking utensils.
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.
What are the options to reduce quarantine?
Asymptomatic contacts may reduce quarantine while continuing to monitor symptoms for the full 14 days after exposure.
- After day 10 without testing
- After day 7 if testing is available and you received a negative PCR test on day 5, 6, or 7. We offer curbside PCR testing at our clinic through LabCorp. There is typically a 48 hour turn-around time but this is not guaranteed by LabCorp when testing volumes are high.
What Do I Need to Know About COVID-19 Testing?
Types of COVID-19 Testing
We encourage our patients to contact our office to determine which, if any, COVID-19 test is the right plan of care. There are several different types of tests being marketed for COVID-19 testing. We currently have all three types of tests available. We offer curbside rapid and send-off covid testing daily.
Viral Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests
- The primary method for acute COVID-19 diagnostic testing is through SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. This test is designed to detect the viral DNA that causes COVID-19 in respiratory specimens such as nasal or oral swabs. NAATs are more accurate but require specialized lab equipment and sometimes take longer to process.
- We offer curbside PCR testing through LabCorp. Turnaround time is typically 48 hours but can vary pending volume in the laboratory.
Viral Antigen Tests
- Antigen tests detect viral proteins and may not be as sensitive as NAATs, particularly if the antigen test is used on someone without COVID-19 symptoms.
- We offer two different antigen tests, and try to use the most accurate test available based on your symptoms. Turn-around time is 15 minutes.
- You may have also heard about antibody testing to determine if you previously had COVID-19. This type of testing detects two different antibodies (IgM/IgG) to the coronavirus. The concern about this test is that there may be crossover with other coronavirus strains that could result in a false positive, there can be a negative test in the first 1-3 weeks of symptoms, resulting in a false sense of security which may result in spreading the virus to others, and even if an antibody is detected (a positive result) the results do not have clear implications in terms of contagiousness or risk of spreading illness.
- We perform antibody testing between day 21 and day 90 of concerning symptoms or direct contact to COVID. This is a blood test sent to LabCorp and is typically reported within 3-7 days.
We encourage our patients to contact our office to determine which, if any, COVID-19 test is the right plan of care. Testing has received Emergency Use Authorization from the US FDA during the pandemic if shown at least a 70% sensitivity. This is important to know because all of these tests have limitations and you must follow all guidelines and recommendations we give you if tested.
My child has been exposed to someone with a confirmed COVID infection. Should we be tested?
Phillips Pediatrics recommends you contact our office to determine the next best step for medical treatment. Be sure to mention all exposure and symptoms when speaking to a member of our team. We will help you determine when your child needs to be seen, which, if any, COVID-19 test is the right plan of care, when the best time to test would be, and when your child can return to school or daycare. We offer curbside rapid and send-off covid testing daily.
How long after exposure should someone wait for testing?
The incubation period (time until symptoms develop) is about 2 to 14 days, with an average of about 5 days. This means that getting tested before symptoms start, especially in the first few days after exposure, may not be helpful. We cannot be certain that a person with a negative test was not infected, and you must follow quarantine guidelines, regardless of test results. We recommend testing in the first few days of symptom onset. For asymptomatic contacts, we recommend testing between day 5 to 7 with a confirmatory PCR if rapid testing is negative. We recommend testing at our clinic when possible so we can make sure you receive the right test.
What should you expect if your child was tested at our office for COVID-19?
If you were tested today at Phillips Pediatrics, a member of our staff will call you to discuss results of your test whether they are positive or negative. You should remain quarantined until a member of our staff gives you further instructions (do not head to Wal Mart while awaiting test results). For rapid 15 minute tests, a member of our staff calls at lunch and after clinic to report the results of your test. If you do not receive a call, please contact our office. Send-out tests result in 2 to 3 days at which time you will receive a call from someone from our office. If you do not receive a call after 3 days, please call us at 662-371-1543. We send school and work notes via fax when needed.
Should you travel during the pandemic?
As the cases of COVID-19 grow around the country, we want to help you in making the most informed decision prior to loading up the car or booking your next trip. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created guidance for considerations for travel. Before you go, a few considerations are:
- Are you heading to a “hot spot?” Traveling to areas with increased COVID-19 can increase your risk of infection. There also may be increased travel restrictions due to the viral spread. It is encouraged that you check state or local health departments for more information before you travel.
- Will you be able to socially distance while traveling? Being less than 6 feet from others can increase your chance of infecting others or becoming infected.
- Are you at an increased risk of infection? If you or those you or those you are planning to travel with are at an increased risk of illness, it is recommended that travel be limited.
- Will you need to quarantine after traveling? Some states, work-sites, and schools may require or recommend a 14-day quarantine after traveling.
- Are you sick or have you been in contact with someone that has COVID-19? Travel is not recommended for anyone that is sick or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
- How will you travel? Traveling by airplane, bus, train or even stopping at rest stops can lead to virus exposure. Choosing a way to travel that allows you to avoid close contact with others is the most ideal.
Should you choose to travel during this time, we recommend that you continue to follow the CDC recommendations for COVID-19:
- Wear your mask or face covering.
- Clean your hands often and when soiled by washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Avoid close contact with others by staying 6 feet apart as much as possible.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Limit your exposure to others as often as possible.
Should I send my child to school this year?
This is definitely not a one size fits all situation. The AAP, the CDC, and the MSDH, have all offered their recommendations/opinions. They are addressing what is best for the majority of children. We agree with the AAP that “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being and provide our children and adolescents with academic instruction, social and emotional skills, safety, reliable nutrition, physical/speech and mental health therapy, and opportunities for physical activity, among other benefits.”
However, you the parents are not making decisions for the average child, you are making decisions for your child. Most children are safe in school. But, for children with medical conditions such as Diabetes or Down syndrome or for children being taken care of by elderly family members or caregivers with high risk medical conditions, virtual school may be a safer alternative. When choosing alternate education routes, you have to make sure your home has access to virtual classes and schedules that allow proper education times. Here’s a great article on back to school from Dr. Phillips published by the Oxford Eagle.
Is there an association between multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and COVID-19?
MIS-C is a rare inflammatory condition in children following infection with SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms include:
- A persistent fever (100.4 F or above)
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
- Rash or changes in skin color
- Trouble breathing
- Listlessness/lethargy or confusion
MIS-C is similar to symptoms of Kawasaki’s Disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome. While it sounds frightening, MIS-C is very rare. Still, our providers are aware of the symptoms and take great precaution in children presenting with acute coronavirus and post-viral illnesses.