Everything You Need to Know About Coronavirus in the New York Metro Area
Here are the latest news developments about the virus—and tips from experts on how to protect your kids
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Dr. Ferrer recommends that parents do not panic. Keep in mind—the flu has killed thousands of people in the United States alone this year.
“At some point in our lives, we’ve all been infected with coronavirus. It’s one of the many viruses that produces cold or flu like symptoms,” Dr. Ferrer says. “Don’t panic [about this one]. The reason this virus has progressed so quickly is it’s still not well understood, but outbreaks happen every year. We should remain aware of our surroundings, aware of the information that is coming through the surveillance systems of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], and take measures if your children develop respiratory symptoms.”
The virus is spread when viral droplets (from a cough or sneeze) directly enter a person's eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets can linger on surfaces like subway rails or door handles. The aggressiveness of this coronavirus is still unknown, and could be due to the planet’s population growth, which provides the virus with more chances to mutate and become stronger, Dr. Ferrer says. That’s why early detection is key in treating it—and learning more about it. While symptoms can look just like the common cold or flu, be on guard.
“A lot of times we wait too long to go to the doctor because we’re used to just ‘getting through’ the cold and flu,” Dr. Ferrer says.
The signs of coronavirus can be fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, and respiratory difficulties that can turn into pneumonia—and that can worsen rapidly, Dr. Ferrer says. The virus can have lasting effects, such as lung scarring, even on young and healthy people. Experts say that if your fever reaches 100.4 degrees and you have all the symptoms above, it's time to call the doctor.
Coronavirus has sickened very few kids so far (and experts are struggling to understand why), but good hygiene and health practices are still essential to protect your kids and family members or friends who might be immunocompromised. Always encourage kids of all ages to cough and sneeze into their elbows, not their hands. Make sure kids wash their hands thoroughly and often (hand sanitizer is helpful, but not a replacement!). Do not go out right now if you or your kids are sick. Take extra care with kids who have chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
If your child starts to exhibit coronavirus symptoms, experts recommend you call your local health provider before taking your child to the doctor to figure out the best course of action.
If you're working from home, you get to stay in with the kids. But if you're an essential worker, here are some tips on finding last-minute child care. WeeCare, a large network of licensed home day care providers, has introduced "Fever-Free Zones" to help prevent the spread of the virus, where day care providers have to submit evidence that their home is fever free before being authorized to provide care for the day. You can find a fever-free WeeCare home day care option within a five-mile radius of your home beginning now.
The Child Mind Institute published tips on how to talk to your kids about coronavirus with inciting panic or fear. Strategies include
Don't be afraid to talk about the virus—not talking about the illness kids will probably hear about on the news can make them more anxious. Keep conversations going as the story develops.
Be developmentally appropriate. Too much information can be overwhelming. Meet your kids at their level.
Be reassuring, focus on what your family can do to stay safe, and stick to your routine as much as possible. Structured days with regular mealtimes can be essential to keeping kids healthy and happy, says Janine Domingues, Ph.D., a child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, especially if their schools close. You can read the rest of the tips on the Child Mind website.
Common Sense Media has also released guidelines to help parents now that schools have closed. Check out their tips, resources, and more. This piece provides strategies for easing anxiety in kids with special needs, as well.
Public transportation in NYC is still running, and the MTA has started to clean more. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai suggests that parents should take some extra precautions to keep kids safe. Avoid people who seem like they might be sick, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and follow the news for updates about the virus.
Francesca Page, the TV host, journalist and travel expert behind Miss Travel Guru, provided tips for people considering keeping their summer travel plans intact.
- If you do decide to travel, get the flu shot and all other necessary vaccinations, rest, stay hydrated, and stay as healthy as possible before getting on the plane.
- Consider refundable rates when booking hotels and rental cars. "Read the fine print," Page says. "And note the cancellation window on your hotel booking."
- If you're going on a cruise, check the line's cancellation policies. According to Page, many lines have been giving vouchers for people who decide to change their plans because of the virus.
- Read the terms and conditions of your travel insurance carefully. When unsure which plan to buy, get the Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) option.