STATEMENT ON CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2020
March 9, 2020
Dear Virginia Pediatric and Adolescent Patients and Families,
With the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases seen in the Washington/Virginia/Maryland areas, we ask that anyone sick with fever and respiratory symptoms who thinks that they have been exposed to someone with COVID 19 or who has a significant likelihood of having it themselves, please call our office ahead of coming in. This way, we can appropriately treat you while maintaining safety to our other patients.
The staff at Virginia Pediatric and Adolescent Center strive to be a source of information for you with regard to your children’s health. With the rising number of cases of Novel Coronavirus worldwide, we want to reach out to our patients and offer what knowledge we have about it, and help to put it into perspective from our clinical experience and judgment.
As you know, this is an evolving pandemic. We will continue to be in touch with our local and national health care agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) as we seek updated information. We trust them for guidance and the most up-to-date information, especially during times like this current coronavirus outbreak.
Specifically, we would like to address the following concerns and questions that you may have.
WHAT IS A CORONAVIRUS?
Coronaviruses are not new. They have been around for thousands of years, and are a common cause of upper respiratory infections. Most of us have been infected by them at one time or another. They typically cause mild respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat and sometimes a fever. Coronaviruses are typically not associated with lower respiratory tract infections. In the past, there has been no increased concern over them, and physicians invariably do not test for them when patients present with cold symptoms. Coronaviruses are spread from person to person through respiratory/airborne droplet secretions and from infected surfaces when those secretions come in contact with our eyes, nose and mouth.
WHAT IS COVID 2019 AND WHAT IS SARS-COV-2?
The current coronavirus outbreak which began in late 2019 has been named SARS-CoV-2 and seems to be somewhat similar to the SARS outbreak in 2002 although more widespread. The disease it is causing has been named “COVID-19”. As you likely know, the face of this epidemic changes daily. It began in the Hubei Province of China, and has been spreading with new case reports in new countries daily. In the past few weeks, there have been a number of confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 in the Virginia/Maryland/DC area. Like you, we rely on information from the CDC, WHO and our local health departments to tell us the latest information regarding its spread. Collective knowledge about the illness is evolving. It would be unwise to cite death rates from this disease, as no one really knows. We only know the death cases due to the virus, but we do not know the number of people infected. What we do know, is that like the SARS-CoV outbreak of 2002-2003, children do not seem to be affected significantly by this current virus. Most deaths have occurred in the elderly (especially those above 80 years of age) and in those with a pre-existing medical condition (particularly cardiac or pulmonary). At the current time, there is no specific anti-viral medication used to treat this illness.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?
First, try not to panic. Remember again, that the mortality risk appears to be low for non-elderly and those without a chronic medical condition. At this point, it appears that children typically are asymptomatic or have mild upper respiratory symptoms.
Remember, the virus is spread person-to-person through droplets and from infected surfaces. Follow standard precautions for all illnesses:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick if possible
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Stay at home if you are sick
Cover your coughs or sneezes with your elbow or tissue, and throw away the tissue
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
Wear a facemask if you are sick and are around others
Wash your hands after using the bathroom, before meals, and after coughing and sneezing.
WHAT IS VIRGINIA PEDIATRIC AND ADOLESCENT CENTER DOING TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN?
The providers at VPAC are staying abreast of the current pandemic, and will update our infection control practices according to those recommended to us by the health department and the CDC. You will notice that we have removed all books from our waiting rooms and patient rooms. We encourage you to bring your own books and devices from home when visiting our office. We will try to leave all non-essential doors open (within the regulations of safety and privacy) in order to limit patient and family contact with handles and surfaces. In addition to the hygiene measures mentioned above, we encourage you to use the foam sanitizer found throughout our office in the wall canisters whenever entering or leaving a patient room and upon leaving our office.
Please see our temporary scheduling changes and option for telemedicine.
We ask that anyone who thinks that they have been exposed to someone with COVID or who has a significant likelihood of having it themselves, please call our office ahead of coming in. This way, we can appropriately treat you while maintaining safety to our other patients. We will update this information as we understand more about the current Coronavirus Outbreak.
The Staff at Virginia Pediatric and Adolescent Center
Fairfax County Health Department Coronovirus Hotline (703) 267-3511