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A Doctor Answers All Of Your Coronavirus Questions

March 10, 2020

I’m starting to get a liiiiiitle more worried about the Coronavirus with word of school and work closing buzzing around me. It turns out a lot of you are getting worried too so I asked Shelly, otherwise known as Doctor Mommy, MD to answer some of the most requested questions: should you cancel your travel plans? avoid crowded places with toddlers? are you more at risk if you’re pregnant? Shelly has written a great, comprehensive article with everything you need to know!

@DoctorMommyMD Answering Your Questions about COVID-19

On December 31, China reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia that was later confirmed to be caused by a novel coronavirus. 

This novel coronavirus is now called SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19. 

We will be seeing a dramatic increase in the number of reported cases over the next couple of weeks, but this will likely be due to the increased availability of tests, not necessarily because the virus is spreading more rapidly.

Here is a link to a very cool Global Coronavirus COVID-19 tracker put out by Johns Hopkins.

So far, 81% of reported cases have had mild symptoms, 14% show moderate symptoms and 5% have developed critical illness.

To put it into perspective:

Lethality Rate

Ebola 50%

MERS 2012 30%

SARS 10%

COVID-19 2% (Though South Korea, which has been most aggressive in testing has shown a 0.57% mortality rate – so when we increase testing, we will likely see this percentage drop.)

Flu – .1-.2%

It is important to stay informed, not panic, and know what you can do to help contain this disease.

Please also see this YouTube video from @mamadoctorjones who is always one of my favorite resources for FACTS.

Now, to answer some of your questions:

Should I cancel domestic travel plans? What about international?

For travel guidance you should consult the CDC as this information is changing daily. 

They have an interactive risk assessment map that I will link here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

This is a very personal decision, but you are more likely to be exposed to the disease if you are in large gatherings of people, especially if it is somewhere that there are known cases or if it is a place that many people travel to. 

It is also important to take into account the risk of being quarantined away from home if you become ill while traveling, or the risk of borders being closed in other countries due to spread of the virus.

The CDC is currently recommending limiting all non-essential travel to Warning Level 3 countries. 

If YOU are sick you should absolutely not travel because you risk infecting other people. 

I’m pregnant, should I be concerned?

At this time, it seems like people who are pregnant are not at increased risk for contracting Coronavirus however this may change. While pregnant women ARE considered immunocompromised, it is not to the same level as patients who are on chemotherapy. 

Pregnant women also do not appear to be at greater risk for complications. In one study, of 9 women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy with confirmed and symptomatic COVID-19 infection none developed severe pneumonia or died. All gave birth via c-section to healthy-appearing babies with normal APGAR scores. No virus was found in amniotic fluid, cord blood, or breastmilk.

COVID-19 in Pregnancy info.

Of the known 20 pregnant women diagnosed with COVID-19 there have been 0 deaths so far.

The elderly and those with preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular disease or lung disease are at greatest risk of serious complications and death.

Should I avoid indoor places like the library, toddler play place etc. with my little kids? Or bigger places like Disney?

Right now, the evidence shows that most infants have been infected by a close family member.

There are many factors that come into play with this decision, such as where you live. Some schools on the West Coast are currently closing due to spread of the virus. If this is the case where you live, I would try and stay away from places where a lot of people congregate until these recommendations change.

Right now, I am following local public health authorities for information on this. For me, this is the Oklahoma Department of Health and recommendations are changing daily. Please consult your local health department webpage for up to date information. 

When you do go out you should use standard precautions like not letting others touch your baby, wipe down surfaces when you can, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. 

As far as Disney, I know how much families look forward to a trip like this and how much planning and money goes into it. This is a personal decision, but you should take into account that this is a very busy place that people travel to from all over the country and the world.

Should I be worried about delivering my baby at a Coronavirus screening hospital?

Screening hospitals should all have very stringent protocols in place. You should research your particular hospital, but I would suspect that anyone being tested for Coronavirus would not come into contact with patients on Labor and Delivery. Make sure you see your medical providers washing their hands, and don’t be afraid to speak up if they don’t. I promise I wouldn’t be offended. ☺

Is it true that kids aren’t getting sick? Why?

There have been no reported deaths in children 0-9 years old. Of the 9 infants diagnosed with COVID-19 all have recovered. There is a theory that the respiratory receptors that this virus binds to are not mature in younger children, but we do not definitively know the answer to this yet. 

What are the differences in symptoms with the flu?

Symptoms are very similar and include:

  • Fever
  • Uncomplicated upper respiratory symptoms (Cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, malaise, headache, muscle aches)
  • Difficult Breathing
  • Mild pneumonia
  • Sever pneumonia (Severe acute respiratory infection – SARI)
  • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
  • Sepsis and Septic Shock
  • Death

Treatment is supportive care. 

What can you do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

  • Wash your hands
    • Use warm soapy water for 20 seconds.
  • If you use alcohol-based hand sanitizer make sure it is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your cough with your elbow or tissues. Immediately discard tissue and wash your hands.
  • Avoid others who are ill – stay at least 6 feet away.
  • Stay home if you are sick, unless you need urgent medical attention.

With Health and Love,
Shelly
@doctormommymd
If you have any other questions that come up, send me a DM! 

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  1. Francesca says:

    Do we have any idea why all the pregnant women in that study delivered via c section?

  2. Kenna says:

    How does one know they are sufficiently recovered to return to work, school etc.