COVID-19 UPDATE (March 16, 2020)
** Note: information is changing rapidly. We wil update this page as we learn more **
As coronavirus information and recommendations seem to change hourly, it is difficult to keep up and know what we should be doing to keep our families and communities safe. Amherst Pediatrics strives to keep up as well, and will continue to provide you with the most accurate information we can. That said, there may be no single answer to some of the questions that you have about this outbreak.
Kids and Social Distancing
By now, we have all likely heard that the single most important thing we can do to stop the spread of this virus is social distancing – limiting contact with others as much as possible in order to prevent transmission of the virus. But how do we do this, exactly, and how far do we take it?
On March 15, Governor Baker issued an emergency order prohibiting gatherings of over 25 people in an effort to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. After reviewing the recommendations of many public health experts, Amherst Pediatrics advises our community for now to limit contact to your immediate family or household. The ability of our healthcare system to care for those in need (both those sickened by Coronavirus as well as those with other serious healthcare needs) depends on slowing the spread of this virus. This must be taken seriously, and it must happen now. The only way to do this is with very strict adherence to social distancing – it must become the new norm, at least at this critical moment in the outbreak.
Here are some common questions we would like to address that have come up frequently:
Is it safe to go outside?
Although staying in your home will certainly help prevent you and your family from getting the virus or spreading it to others, it isn't the most practical thing to do, it isn’t sustainable, and isn’t even necessary. You will need to go outside, get fresh air, and move your body around. It’s fine to go out for a walk, a run, or a bike ride, but it is important to avoid close proximity to others - the recommendation being a minimum of 6 feet apart. If you do go out and encounter others, be respectful, say hello, but keep your distance. If you have it, bring hand-sanitizer with you if you go out, and use it if you touch objects that may be frequently touched by others, such as playground equipment or door handles. And remember to wash hands as soon as you return home.
Can my kids go on play dates?
Again, it is critical to minimize close contact for now. Though children are spared the worst of this illness, they can have mild illness or have asymptomatic infection – this makes them potentially silent vectors of transmission. That said, maintaining social connection is extremely important, so be creative. Video calls, phone calls, texts, or even letter writing can be important ways for your child to stay connected to friends and family.
Can we visit friends and family?
It is imperative that we stick to our nuclear families for now. While the vast majority of those who become infected with this virus will have mild illness, some are at higher risk for much more serious illness. This is particularly true of older people (those over 65-70), and people with certain underlying heath conditions, such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or immunodeficiency. We must act as if we are all carrying this virus, and do our part to prevent spread to those more vulnerable members of our community.
Can I go out to eat?
For now, all our local restaurants are closed for business, though many are open for take-out and/or delivery. This is an okay option, but remember the following:
- If taking out, keep your distance from others
- Use hand-sanitizer if you touch objects that may be frequently touched by others, such as door handles
- Wash your hands when you return home and after discarding boxes or bags that have been touched by others
How should I clean my home
At home, continue to follow your usual hand hygiene practices. Clean surfaces regularly with a detergent, disinfectant or disinfectant wipe; this includes counters, table-tops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets & toilet handles, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.
Can my child get tested for the Coronavirus?
At this point in time, the capacity to test is limited. While the situation regarding testing is very fluid and likely to change soon, we are not currently performing coronavirus testing at Amherst Pediatrics. If you feel you or your child needs to get tested, please call our office and we can discuss the current indications and procedures for testing.
What should I do if my child is ill
Please call us right away if you or your child has fever for more than 3 days, a worsening cough, or difficulty breathing, or if you have known exposure to someone with COVID-19 infection.
We cannot stress enough the importance of frequent hand-washing, and staying away from others as much as possible when you are sick yourself.
Your child is hearing about this virus from many sources, some of which may not be reliable. Even with reilable information, this is a confusing and alarming time for everone, and children in particular are likely to have concerns that need to be addressed. The following are good resources for talking to your children about the virus:
Here are some useful places to get additional information about COVID-19, and how you can keep your family and community as safe as possible:
- Hand washing tips from the AAP
Please remeber to follow these general recommendations for prevention of infection:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean things that are frequently touched (like doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
- Wearing a mask is unlikely to keep you safe but is important for medical professionals and for people who are ill. Leave masks for those that need them.
** Please note temporary office hours for the week of March 16-20, 2020 **
For the week of March 16 - 20, 2020 Amherst Pediatrics will be open 8:00 AM - 4:45 PM.
There will be NO extended office hours (5:00 - 7:00 PM) during this week.
Due to the elevated level of illness in our communities, please remain at home if you or your child is ill. If you have concerns about how your child is feeling, please contact us by sending a message through this patient portal. The clinicians will be able to respond to you during our regular hours. Calling the office may present a further delay in response times.
The COVID-19 situation is ever unfolding. We are dedicated to the safety of our patients and staff. Please refer to our website for updates on this changing situation.