Quarantine & Sunscreen: Summertime in the Age of COVID-19
As we welcome the heat, humidity, and afternoon rains of summertime in Florida, many of us are wondering what exactly is considered “safe” with regard to our children’s activities and Coronavirus. Our government has relaxed regulations around restaurants, beaches, and summer camps - does this mean it’s okay to BBQ with neighbors, plan playdates with friends, and send our kids to camp? Unfortunately, there isn’t necessarily one clearly right answer.
Locally, our ERs are continuing to see very sick people from Coronavirus, including healthy adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Some show up in respiratory failure. Golisano Childrens’ Hospital has quite a few children currently hospitalized with Coronavirus, whether for respiratory distress or multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).
As this strain and severity of Coronavirus is new, the medical community is learning as we go. Therefore, there are many unknowns about this outbreak - leading to a wealth of false and misleading information. However, here are a few things we do know:
- This virus is mainly spread through respiratory droplets (i.e. breathing, talking, yelling, singing, and certainly coughing!)
- The closer you are to someone who carries the virus as they expel those droplets, the more likely you are to get infected - i.e. why physically staying 6 feet away helps
- Masks, depending on the material, either act as a physical barrier to the droplets or filter them
- You can be carrying and spreading COVID-19 for up to 14 days before feeling ill, or you may not feel ill at all
- Most people who develop symptoms are mildly or moderately ill, but about 20% are sick enough to need hospitalization, and about 5% are severely ill and require ICU care
(Side note - we are SO incredibly lucky to be confident that if we do become severely ill, we have amazing ER and ICU doctors, nurses, and support staff to take care of us!)
So, is camp okay? What about playing with the neighbors or cousins? I think we can all agree that the less exposure, the less chance of ourselves or our families getting sick, and the less chance we will continue to spread the virus to others. However, it’s not realistic to stay completely isolated forever - so it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits of each individual situation.
Some considerations to help your family make their decisions:
How healthy is your child? Does your child have any chronic health conditions that would put them at increased risk of significant illness from Coronavirus?
How healthy are your other household members? Is there anyone who your child has frequent contact with who is elderly or at increased risk of severe illness from Coronavirus?
How important is this event or activity to your family? In a household with working adults, summer camp may be the only option for childcare. Alternatively, attending a friend’s get-together may not be worth the risk of exposure.
What safety measures are being taken? Will everyone present be wearing masks and keeping physical distance? Is the activity outside or inside?
If your child ends up getting sick or has a known exposure to Coronavirus, your household should self-quarantine for 14 days - what effect would this have on your family’s employment or other essential activities?
I know we are all suffering from “COVID fatigue” and are tired of hearing about it on the news and reading about it on social media. However, when it comes to our children, our parents, and my little patients - it is always worth being extra cautious. My goal is to help ensure the continued health and well-being of your children. Hopefully this article helps you make well-thought-out choices for your family. As always, I’m happy to discuss this situation further with you anytime!