Coronavirus and Kids


COVID-19 has been killing people around the world by the thousands, with a much larger number infected but not dying. But one thing that was seen in China and Italy, and now reflected here in America, is that the virus is not affecting children nearly as much as it affects adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control, within the last half of February (Feb 12 – April 2), there were 149,082 new reported cases of COVID-19 in America whose victims ages were known. Of those, 2,572 were among children under 18 – a scant 1.7% of the total reported new cases. But does that mean children are completely safe? Or are their cases going unnoticed and therefore unreported?
“Kids are actually doing really well when it comes to COVID-19 infections. That doesn’t mean they are not getting infected, just that their outcomes tend to be much less severe than what is being seen with adults,” said Dr. John Rodarte, pediatrician with Descanso Pediatrics in La Cañada, part of Huntington Health Physicians. “In fact, some kids are completely asymptomatic when they have the illness, which can make it even more difficult when it comes to knowing if they can be around relatives who are at higher risk. We often are asked if it’s okay to be around Grandma or Grandpa right now and, since the elderly are in the higher risk group, the safest thing for now is to have lots of grandparent time via FaceTime or Skype or something similar.”
Children are now learning remotely at home since school was canceled and, as social media can show, parents have their hands full. Between working from home and taking care of the kids who have no outlet for energy, there seemingly is no respite. But just as parents are stressed to have to stay home and juggle the kids, kids are stressed to break the routine, too. Not seeing friends, not getting outside to run at recess and not having the structure of a classroom can all weigh on the child as much as not being in the office does their parents. And the key to that is balance and routine.
“As the time for social distancing has gone on, hopefully families are getting into a little more of a routine. Try to keep some semblance of a routine for your children. School-work time, built-in breaks, going out into the backyard or patio for some fresh air (or even some fun rain play) to simulate recess or PE. Parents may find that they’re even more productive themselves with short breaks like that,” Rodarte said. “Everyone needs an outlet during stressful times like this. Exercise can be a great way to release some tension. As parents, we may be worried about our children, stressed that our income has dropped or we’ve been let go from work, worried about loved ones catching this virus. In fact, as commonly happens during major stress events such as this, domestic violence has sadly gone up as well. Focus on the positive … the extra time spent with family is something we can all try to enjoy.”
For children with special needs who have a greater need for scheduling, therapy or other outlets, the strain is felt all the more. This shutdown could mean behavioral lapses and children sliding back in progress made at school with more makeup time needed after the shutdown is lifted.
“This has been a particularly challenging aspect of the ‘Safer-At-Home’ time. For children who usually have regular therapy sessions, etc., see if your therapist is able to arrange virtual visits where they help instruct parents to do the exercises with their children under the virtual supervision of the therapist,” Rodarte said. “That way the therapist may be able to empower the parent, not only to help their children more directly, but also for the children to see their parents as an authority figure in their therapy sessions as well.”