COVID 19, what you need to know!

by |  March 4th, 2020

COVID 19 What we know, what we don’t know, and do we need to worry?

Due to the numerous questions we have received in the office, we want to share this important information with you. This is an emerging situation so we will update guidelines as needed.

  • Is it safe to travel?
  • As of March 3, the current advisory is to avoid non-essential travel to these specific locations: China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and ‘enhanced precautions’ for Japan. It is also wise to reconsider cruise-ship travel into and within Asia. There is no need to avoid air travel or cancel trips to domestic destinations. It is anticipated that COVID 19 will be widespread and ultimately, will be present in our own community. So, it is best to practice excellent hygiene whether at home or in public, including school, work, elevators, public transportation and airplanes.


  • Should I wear a mask?
  • No. Healthcare workers will have protective gear to avoid exposure when evaluating patients with respiratory complaints (cough and fever) because they are within 3 feet of patients faces—who may cough or sneeze and spread the illness. If COVID 19 becomes widespread and you are caring for a family member with the illness, yes, it is a good idea for the infected person to wear a face mask (to reduce spread within the household) and continue to practice excellent hygiene. Standard face masks are ineffective in protecting someone from infected respiratory droplets.


  • Will testing be available in the pediatrician’s office?
  • No. Test kits are currently limited and our state health department will be responsible for expanded testing. This may change as the situation evolves, but there is no point of care testing available to outpatient primary care practices at this time.


  • If my child is coughing, could he/she have COVID 19?
  • Yes, but at this point, it is more likely to be one of many other viral infections that occur during cold and flu season. If COVID 19 becomes widespread in our local area, then the possibility of having COVID 19 when a person is coughing will be much greater. If your child seems ill and is coughing, he/she should stay home from daycare or school reduce the spread of illness.


  • Should I keep my child home from daycare/preschool/school?
  • If your child is ill, with any infectious disease, he should stay home until he is fever free. If COVID 19 becomes widespread, guidelines will change to reduce risk of exposing others.


  • Is there any way to prevent COVID 19?
  • The best way to prevent the spread of any infection (including COVID 19) is to be vigilant about washing hands frequently–preferably with soap and water for about 20 seconds, avoiding touching any parts of your face (eyes, nose, mouth), not sharing drinks or food, and coughing into your elbow. There is currently no vaccine available.


  • What are the symptoms of COVID 19?
  • Like other more common coronavirus infections, this illness will look like the common cold. Symptoms include fever, cough, bodyaches, sore throat, and headache. Some people also have diarrhea. More serious symptoms are difficulty breathing or labored breathing and patients who develop worsening symptoms in the second week of illness.


  • What are the symptoms that require medical attention?
  • People who experience difficulty breathing or labored breathing, dehydration (not urinating at least every eight hours), or extreme lethargy/irritability should seek medical attention. Because there is no medication to treat this viral infection, it is not necessary for everyone with COVID 19 to seek medical attention.


  • Is there any treatment for COVID 19?
  • COVID 19 is a virus and there are currently no anti-viral medications known to effectively treat this infection. Treatment is supportive, and for mild illness means fever control and hydration. Patients with serious illness develop pneumonia (infection in the lungs) and require oxygen and forms of mechanical respiratory support in a hospital setting.


  • Who is at greatest risk of serious illness?
  • Based on the data thus far, the elderly (age 80+) have the greatest risk of serious illness and death—with a 15% mortality rate. There have been no deaths reported in children ages 0-9 and in fact, COVID 19 appears to be a very mild illness in children. People with chronic health issues, particularly chronic lung disease also are at greater risk.


  • What should I do if I am concerned my child has COVID 19?
  • Our office will be screening all patients by phone to determine if the child needs to be seen in our office. We will also be implementing a telehealth platform in mid-April 2020 to try to determine the need for certain patients to be evaluated in a medical setting.* We are committed to keeping most patients out of the office or isolating those that need medical attention to limit any exposure to community.


*We will notify the practice via our portal and website once our telehealth platform is live in mid-April 2020.


For more information, please go to the Centers for Disease Control

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Dr. Ari Brown is a pediatrician and a mom. Dr. Brown is Board Certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has been in private practice for over 20 years. Her passion to advocate for children and educate families extends beyond the office setting. She is the co-author the bestselling "411" parenting book series including Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for your Pregnancy, Baby 411, and Toddler 411. Dr. Brown has received several professional awards including the Ralph Feigin, MD Award for Professional Excellence, the prestigious Profiles in Power Award by the Austin Business Journal for her service to the community, Austin's Favorite Pediatrician by Austin Family Magazine, and Texas Monthly Magazine's Super Doctor.

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