COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected the adult world of health, finance and even social interactions, it has also forced us all to rethink the safety of our children as they go back to school to face a potential influx of germs and infections. And we know that some of these germs could potentially have very serious consequences.
While we all want our kids to get the most out of their education, no one wants to sacrifice their children’s health to that end. At Medco ER & Urgent Care, we’re here to help. Our board-certified physicians have compiled 5 ways you can safeguard your child’s health while school starts back up.
“Despite a solid game plan in place that correlates with the school district’s reentry plan, parents are still concerned about sending their kids to school. However, by adhering to the proper guidelines, the risk of infection can be minimized,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora.
Tip 1: Immune System Boosters
“The best thing you can do for your child is to nurture a strong immune system,” said Dr. Vora. “Making sure your child gets a balanced diet each day with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, protein, complex carbohydrates and water, eliminating refined sugar and processed foods, and using vitamin supplements are good places to start.”
Establishing a regular bedtime with plenty of hours of sleep is part of teaching your child good sleep hygiene. This is an often overlooked aspect of having a strong, healthy body.
Keep tabs on stress levels. If your child runs at high levels of stress, over time this can impact the immune system. Do what you can to infuse laughter and fun into each day and talk through any difficulties to keep your child healthy and trouble-free.
Tip 2: Sanitize Clothes and Masks Daily
Have your children get in the habit of changing their clothes immediately upon coming home and placing them in the dirty laundry. Cloth masks should be washed each night and paper masks should be disposed of properly (not recycled). It may be more convenient to do a small load of laundry each night to ensure your child has sanitized clothes and mask to start each new day. Don’t forget to disinfect the laundry hamper and wash your own hands afterwards.
Tip 3: Teach Healthy Practices at Home
To prepare your child for a healthy school year and beyond, proper hand washing techniques are crucial. Teach your child to wash his or her hands every time after using the bathroom and before eating. Instruct them to wash hands immediately upon returning home and after changing clothes. Demonstrate the right way to wash between the fingers, under the nails and on the fronts and backs of hands for 20 seconds using soap and water.
Pack hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack for on-the-go cleaning. If your child moves from classroom to classroom throughout the day, consider packing non-bleach disinfecting wipes so each desk and chair can be cleaned before use.
Tip 4: Masks are a Must
Even more than backpacks, masks are essential back-to-school gear now for every student. But it’s not enough to give a mask to your child and send him or her out the door. Kids need to know the proper way to wear the mask – covering both the nose and the chin – and that they are not supposed to remove the mask even to answer questions or to talk to friends, and they should not share or exchange masks with friends.
“We should teach our kids how to sneeze and cough when wearing a mask. They should learn to cough or sneeze into the mask. If you can, pack an extra mask each day. Then, your child can swap out when it has gotten dirty,” said Dr. Vora.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle parents face in mask training is getting their kids to wear them for long periods of time. This actually may require practice at home to get the children desensitized to the mask.
Tip 5: Monitor Temperature and Symptoms
Taking your child’s temperature each day can be painless with a digital thermometer. This constant vigilance will help ensure your child is feeling his best at the beginning of the day. If your child has a headache, cough or runny nose, keep him/her home to be on the safe side, and follow up with a health care provider.
Get fast treatment at Medco ER & Urgent Care
At Medco ER, we are here all day, every day, to take care of your family when needed. Our board-certified physicians are always available and ready to assess your child’s health at a moment’s notice. If you are worried about exposure to coronavirus, talk to us about any noticeable symptoms. We can help.
- Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road.
Call us @ 469-392-4000.
We’ve all seen the memes to combat the coronavirus scare that’s paralyzing the world: “Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands,” and there is a lot of truth to that glib comment. Social media has unending anecdotal remarks to offer in the never-ending quest to keep yourself and your children healthy during this busy flu and coronavirus season. But what do the medical experts have to say?
We’ve compiled our 5 best suggestions for staying healthy and avoiding the flu or coronavirus.
1. Wash your hands the right way
Yes, everyone knows we need to wash our hands frequently during flu season, but it might be a surprise to hear that very few adults do it correctly. Begin with warm water and plenty of soap. Make sure to wash the backs of the hands and the fingernails as well. Wash for 20 seconds, or two rounds of “Happy Birthday.” Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door.
Take time to remind and reteach your children how to wash the right way and quiz them on opportunities they have at school to wash and to use hand sanitizer. “Hand washing is the #1 way to get rid of coronavirus germs,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora.
2. Cover up
When you sneeze or cough, use a tissue or cover your mouth with your elbow to block microscopic particles from becoming airborne. Wash or sanitize after sneezing. Some people have opted to wear medical masks in public to reduce the risk of exposure.
3. Avoid contact
Avoid touching your face – eyes, nose, mouth – to reduce the risk of receiving or transmitting germs. If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others. Don’t share eating utensils or glasses. Use your own towels, bedding and clothes and keep them clean. If you know someone who is sick, avoid that person until he or she has been fever-free for at least 24 hours.
4. Build up your immune system
Diets high in refined sugars and starches can weaken immune systems. Limit the amount of sugars and empty carbs you and your children are consuming and opt instead for extra vegetables and fruits at mealtimes and as snacks.
Consider adding foods rich in:
- Vitamin C – kiwis, lemons, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, oranges
- Zinc – dairy, eggs, meat, whole grains, legumes, nuts
5. Develop clever ways to protect your hands from germs
Think through your day. Do you have to touch elevator buttons to get to work? Do you ride an escalator or travel a lot of stairs? Does your store or ATM have a touch screen? Do you share a keyboard with others? How many public doors do you have to open as you go about a typical work day? Do you look at a menu at the restaurant? Begin strategizing how to get through your day with less contact with public surfaces. Do the same for your child.
Gloves, tissues, paper towels, a pencil and other devices can provide a layer of protection as you navigate. A natural antibacterial spray for the air, such as tea tree oil and water, can help cut down airborne germs. And, of course, don’t forget the hand sanitizer for times you have to touch a public surface and don’t have a chance to wash.
When should I go to the ER?
A common variety of flu can be treated with rest, fluids and staying home. Over-the-counter fever reducers, cough suppressants and decongestants may provide some relief. However, secondary infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia can crop up and they require prompt medical attention. As a general rule, if you are still feeling bad after 3 days, seek medical help. If you are having difficulty breathing or have become too dehydrated, go to the nearest emergency room (ER) immediately.
With the coronavirus, symptoms can manifest anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure. If you think you or your child may have contracted this virus, go to the nearest ER immediately. “Because the coronavirus requires containment and medical supervision, it is important that you tell your doctor right away if you think you have contracted the virus,” said Dr. Vora. “Include any information about recent travels and any exposure you may have had.”
Warning signs of coronavirus / COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
Where can I find help for the flu or virus?
For fast medical help, Medco ER & Urgent Care is available in two convenient locations. We’re always open, day and night, even on holidays. Within minutes of arriving, you will be ushered into a private room and will receive prompt care from a board-certified physician.
- Plano: 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road. Call us @ 469-392-4000.
- Frisco: 5600 Eldorado Parkway across from McDonald’s and Costco. Call us @ 469-392-4100.
A rapidly evolving health story broke out in late December 2019, when a novel illness originating in Wuhan City, China made the news. Reports of the number of infected people (with now called 2019 Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV) swiftly rose, and isolated cases of this new virus have appeared in several countries, including the United States due to international travel. As of today, it has caused over 17,000 cases of confirmed cases and 362 deaths. Eleven cases and no deaths have been reported in the US. Fortunately, public health officials in many countries, including the US, have put measures in place to help prevent further spread of the virus.
With information changing so quickly and every news report about the virus seeming to raise the stakes, you may be wondering how likely it is that you or a loved one will become ill.
It’s convenient to turn to the internet for various links to information online. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there as well. The purpose of this writing is to provide you with some useful information on what we should know about this virus and what it may mean for you.
What is a Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a common cause of colds and other upper respiratory tract infections. These viruses infect certain animals and spread from one animal to another. However, they can also spread to humans, particularly if the virus mutates and becomes wide spread. Chinese authorities reported some cases of viral Pneumonia to the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2019. Many of the ill people had come in contact with a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, a large city in eastern China. Since then, it has become clear that the virus can spread from person to person.
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?
Coronavirus can cause flu- like symptoms, including cough, fever and shortness of breath. There are some early reports of non-respiratory symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Many people recover within a few days. However, some people, especially the very young, elderly, or people with weak immune system may develop a more serious infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
How is it treated?
Scientists are working hard to understand the virus, and Chinese health authorities have posted its full genome in international database. Currently, there are no approved antivirals or vaccines for this particular Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Treatment is only limited to symptom relief and prevention of secondary infection at this time.
Should you worry about catching this virus?
Unless you have been in close contact with an infected person, meaning a traveler from Wuhan City, China who actually has the Coronavirus, you are likely to be safe.
How to prevent this infection?
While we don’t understand the complete particulars of how this virus spreads, Coronavirus can spread through respiratory droplets caused by cough and sneeze from an infected person. Basic infectious disease principles are key to curbing the spread of this virus. Wash your hands regularly, and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow. Stay home from school or work if you have a fever. Avoid close contact with people who have signs of a respiratory infection, such as runny nose, coughing, sneezing or shortness of breath.
In the US, the average person is at extremely low risk of catching this virus at this time. In fact, we are much more likely to get the Flu than any other virus this winter. Approximately one in 10 people suffer from Influenza each flu season. According to the CDC, there have already been around 15 million cases of flu in the US this year, leading to numerous hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. And this flu season has not been particularly severe yet, unlike the past few years. Therefore, it’s still not too late to get a flu shot, an easy and highly recommended step (by CDC) toward avoiding the flu. Even if you do get the flu despite having gotten the vaccine, studies show that severe illness, hospitalization, ICU admission, and death are less likely to occur.
The Bottom Line:
Amid the current spread and the complexity of international travel, the number of cases and deaths attributed to Coronavirus will likely continue to climb. However, there is no need to panic. As more information becomes available, public health organizations like CDC and WHO will be sharing key information and strategies to deal with this threat.
While gathering information online may be the easiest initial option, contact your health care provider if you have symptoms of infection such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Please be skeptical of any fake news, conspiracy theories and unfounded claims on the social media about Coronavirus. Addressing the concerns surrounding 2019-nCoV requires accessible, reliable and updated information from the experts whose mission is to protect public health.
Dr. Tariq M. Vora
Regional Medical Director
Medco ER, Plano & Frisco, Texas
Airplanes have been grounded, flights canceled, travel bans are commonplace and whole cities have come to a standstill. This is the reality for much of China today, due to the widespread outbreak of the novel coronavirus. This virus, labeled a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), has infected 20,000 people and has caused over 400 deaths, according to latest estimates reported by CNN1.
“The coronavirus has raised a lot of concern internationally,” said Medco ER & Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director, Dr. Tariq Vora. “Thanks to the fast response of healthcare workers, it has been quickly identified and risks have been reduced. However, it is good to educate ourselves and to take preventative measures to retain our health during this outbreak.”
A cousin to well-known animal-borne viruses, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the novel coronavirus has medical researchers around the world scrambling to develop an effective treatment. Most agree that the best treatment at this point is prevention.
What is coronavirus?
First discovered in a group of people with pneumonia symptoms in the city of Wuhan in central China, the coronavirus quickly spread to other people. Patients with this virus can develop a respiratory symptoms similar to pneumonia or bronchitis, which can deteriorate to the point of death. However, the percentage of people affected with the coronavirus resulting in death is very low—approximately 3%—according to current data from WHO2.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms include respiratory concerns such as shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. A fever and cough are also common symptoms of the virus. “In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death,” according to the World Health Organization2.
Who is at risk?
Since the coronavirus was identified by health officials in Wuhan and the genetic makeup was shared internationally, the spread has been reasonably contained. Healthcare workers have the ability to identify which strain of coronavirus or other virus is affecting a patient, which has also helped contain the spread. However, each person should consider his or her own risk factors to determine how to best protect themselves.
The highest risk factor includes travel to China. International travel to any of the 20 other countries reporting cases of coronavirus can also be a risk factor.
How does it spread?
The coronavirus originally came from animals and spread to humans. After that, it has spread from people to people who were in close proximity to each other. Individuals can be exposed to the virus by being near an infected person.
To contain the spread, China has quarantined the city of Wuhan and other cities and has issued a travel ban. The U.S. has been screening arriving international passengers for symptoms at major points of entry. At this time, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers the United States at low risk3.
What can I do to protect myself?
Continue using safe public health practices such as washing your hands frequently and sanitizing them. Avoid touching door handles and handrails, if possible. Sneeze into your elbow. Use a tissue and throw it away immediately.
If you’re sick, stay home. If you have a cough, congestion or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention. Any difficulty breathing should receive immediate medical care.
“Just pay attention to how often you are washing your hands and increase that number,” said Dr. Vora. “But most importantly, any time you are having breathing difficulties, come to Medco ER & Urgent Care right away. Don’t wait.”
Finally, since the coronavirus originated from animals, WHO is advising people to thoroughly cook meat and eggs before eating.
What are the treatments?
As suggested by the name, the coronavirus is a virus, so antibiotics aren’t effective in treating it. Currently, research is being conducted worldwide to discover an effective treatment. However, if a patient with coronavirus develops a secondary infection, such as a respiratory infection, that may be able to be treated with antibiotics or other medications.
What should I do if I think I may have the virus?
If you suspect you have a virus or are not feeling well, or if you are suffering from breathing difficulties, come immediately to Medco ER & Urgent Care. As you do, try to limit your exposure to other people. Wear a medical mask if possible and keep your hands washed.
Medco ER & Urgent Care has two facilities where our qualified physicians are ready 24/7 to take excellent care of you.
- In Frisco, come to 5600 Eldorado Parkway across from McDonald’s and Costco. Call us @ 469-392-4100.
- In Plano, visit us at 3960 Legacy Drive on the corner of Legacy and Coit Road. Call us @ 469-392-4000.