Five months into the coronavirus pandemic, we are continuing to learn more about this virus that is affecting all our lives. We’ve found the following information helpful as we’ve honed our practice’s response within our central Mississippi community.
Coronavirus infection rates have remained low in children. A recent study of coronavirus infections in 6 countries has found that children and teens are only half as likely to become infected with coronavirus as those 20 and older. And when they do become infected, almost 80 percent of kids develop no or very mild symptoms. We’ve had only a handful of positive tests at Children’s Medical Group since we started testing for covid-19 infection in March. Many of these positive results have been in patients without symptoms of infection who were tested because of an exposure to someone with the virus.
Severe coronavirus symptoms are uncommon in otherwise healthy children. Analysis of data from the Mississippi State Health Department reveals that children represent only about 1% of our state’s hospitalizations for coronavirus, and there have been no deaths in Mississippi of persons younger than 20. A study of a large number of infected persons in the New York and New Jersey area found that less than 2% of infected children became seriously ill. We’ve had no serious cases of coronavirus infection within our practice.
Mask wearing is effective. Evidence has shown that wearing a mask can reduce viral transmission from one person to another. In June, the Centers for Disease Control reported a case of two hair stylists who unwittingly had close contact with 140 clients while infected with coronavirus. Both stylists and clients wore masks during this time, and no clients tested positive. In another case, a man with a dry cough learned he had coronavirus after flying from China to Canada. He wore a tight-fitting mask during the flight, and no one close to him on the plane tested positive.
At Children’s Medical Group, we have been impressed with how well even young children have adapted to mask-wearing. A key element seems to be having a well-fitting mask. Children who wear a masks that appear comfortable and fit their faces tend to spend less time touching and adjusting their masks. Masks are not recommended for children younger than two years old.
Social distancing helps too. In light of high covid-19 infection rates in our state, Mississippi’s Public Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs has continued to recommend avoiding close contact with nonfamily members and restricting group gatherings to less than 10 people. In order to keep patients and their parents safe in our offices, we’ve kept our waiting rooms closed for now. We are working on plans to streamline flu vaccine delivery this fall in ways that will maximize patient safety and efficiency. Stay tuned for updates on our website and our Facebook and Instagram sites.