A Community in Recovery and Keeping our Children Safe
February 23, 2022
“It has certainly been a very long two years, and we are all experiencing COVID-fatigue,” commented Dr. Jenks, head of the Fauquier Hospital Emergency Department. Dr. Jenks knows as well as anyone, the unprecedented challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on hospitals, communities, and residents. Especially now, that we are entering into year three of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we continue to do everything we can to stop the spread of this novel coronavirus. The latest Omicron variant surged through our community in late December through January, like we have not seen by previous variants. Currently, the community transmission levels seem to continue decreasing, translating into a decrease in the number of COVID positive patients we are seeing within the hospital’s walls.
Dr. Michael Jenks
As our community continues to focus on recovering from Omicron, we are all hoping to get back to a more normal state. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 threat doesn’t appear to be making an official exit anytime soon. So, what can we do? How can we continue living with this virus? A key answer is that we need to stay diligent and educated on the facts. Working together as a community by practicing safe habits where possible will help to reduce the spread. The likelihood that another, more dangerous, variant might emerge does seem possible.
Dr. Jenks shared, “Vaccination remains the most important step that we can all take to reduce the spread of this disease, and to protect ourselves and our communities from the risk of bad outcomes from infection. Remember, vaccination is not only about your protection. For example, it is about protecting those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons. As more people are able to get vaccinated, including children, we get closer one step at a time to getting back to our normal lives.”
Vaccines are now available and recommended for children 5 years and older, boosters are available for 12 years and older after 5 months after primary series.
Keeping our Children Safe
It’s a very unique environment. A world in which some of the younger children don’t have a clear remembrance of what it was like before COVID. Mental health is of great concern when it comes to the developing minds of children of any age. Some important tips to work with your children include calming them down about any issues they are worried about. By opening communication channels, reinforcing healthy lifestyles and dieting habits, and encouraging outside time keep the mind and body strong. When talking to your children about COVID, it can be useful to incorporate explanatory cartoons that are available.
We asked some of the experts – Dr. Diana Chalmeta, local Pediatrician, and Dr. Aliona Bortun, Family Practice Physician – to shed some light on many of the commonly asked questions by parents.
Dr. Diana Chalmeta, Pediatrician
Dr. Aliona Bortun, Family Practice Physician
Frequently Asked Questions Addressed
- Where can my child get a COVID-19 test?
According to Dr. Diana Chalmeta, a local Pediatrician at Piedmont Pediatrics, “Local pharmacies. Piedmont Pediatrics provides rapid and PCR testing for our patients with an appointment and the usual turnaround time for testing is two days. You can also check with your primary care provider or pediatrician to see if they perform testing.”
Dr. Aliona Bortun, Family Practice at Bealeton explained, “There are different options of COVID testing at your pediatrician’s office, urgent care, and COVID testing sites. Now, testing is also more readily available with at home COVID test kits. The best time to have a COVID test, and to avoid false negative test, is after two days of symptoms.”
- If my child begins exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 what should I do?
Dr. Chalmeta explained that symptoms of COVID in children are typically more mild and often appear to be consistent with a mild cold. “It is rarer that children run fevers,” she commented. “If your child has an unexplained runny nose or cough, even if mild, it could be COVID-19. If they are around other children, your child should be tested or isolate until they are feeling better.”
Dr. Bortun advises parents not to panic! A COVID diagnosis can be worrisome and if a child contracts it, but the majority of cases in children tend to be more mild. The best thing the family can do is isolate at home, if possible. Dr. Bortun suggested, “Assign a personal bathroom for their use only. Social distance, when possible, but do not leave the child without adult supervision. Notify the child’s school immediately and contact his/her doctor. Scheduling a televideo appointment will allow you to discuss a plan, further directions, and testing.” It is especially important to notify the doctor as early as possible if the child has comorbidities and respiratory chronic disease. Ultimately, Dr. Bortun suggests making sure the basics are covered, “The child should hydrate well, even if s/he does not eat a lot. For toddlers and babies, a good rule of thumb is to count wet diapers. Be vigilant in monitoring how fast the child is breathing, the color of his/her lips, muscle intercaustal retractions, and identifying any croup or croup-like symptoms.”
- If my child contracts COVID-19, what are some at-home remedies I can use to help treat their symptoms?
Dr. Chalmeta advises parents to check with their pediatrician before introducing new treatments to their child’s routine. She advises parents the importance of maintaining hydration. “Immune boosting vitamins can be beneficial in fighting off viruses, such as COVID-19. These include vitamin D, vitamin C and Zinc. Fever reducing medications can also be used as needed.” With regards to babies, she says, “They can benefit from consistent saline nasal flushing and suction for cough and congestion. Older children can benefit from honey and over-the-counter age, appropriate cough and cold remedies.”
Dr. Bortun also added to this list. She said, “Tylenol can be used for pain and fever. One teaspoon of honey for children one year and older can help with coughing. Adding a humidifier in the child’s room can be beneficial and taking warm baths and showers. Vicks rub is recommended for children older than two years of age; baby Vicks rub can be used for younger children.
- How can I protect my child/baby should someone in my household has COVID-19?
According to Dr. Chalmeta, “If possible, distance the child/baby from the person infected with COVID. Ideally, the infected person should stay in a separate room but if that isn’t possible, they should wear a mask at all times, an N95 if possible.”
Dr. Bortun agrees, “Using different rooms and different bathrooms helps along with practicing good hand hygiene. If you have a baby, and are breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed by pumping the milk or chest breastfeeding with precautions, such as using hand hygiene and masking.”