June 17, 2020
Dear CMG families,
We hope everyone is staying healthy. As most of you have seen, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cases in Travis County over the last week. The Austin Public Health Department has placed us back in stage 4 in hopes that we do not exceed the capacity of our local health care system.
We have received tons of phone calls about potential exposures and questions about next steps. It has been challenging to give advice since every family situation is different and experts are in disagreement about what the novel coronavirus will do next. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly through our community. Please stay vigilant.
Try to keep your social circles small. The problem arises when someone gets sick and they have been in close contact with many different social circles in the short period of time before illness onset. These are the calls we have been receiving over the last few days.
When you or your children need to go indoors with others, which includes grocery stores, wear masks (if your child is over 2 years old they should be in a mask as well), keep physical distance when possible, limit this time as much as you can, and wash/ sanitize your hands regularly.
As pediatricians, we know socializing is incredibly important for your child’s development and crucial to their mental health. It should never have been called “social distancing” but rather “physical distancing.” To limit risk, we believe outside play is much less likely to spread disease than playing inside. We know time and close contact also play a huge role in spread – meaning the closer you are for the longer amount of time increases risk of developing disease.
We encourage our families to get their children outside and play. Consider having another family or two that you decide to do regular play dates with or socialize around, as long as those families are also being thoughtful and careful about their exposures.
We are horrified by recent events following the senseless death of George Floyd. We encourage parents to use this time as a teachable moment about love and caring for others – no matter the color of their skin.
It all starts with a conversation. Our children are overhearing our conversations, watching things on TV, or seeing posts on social media that will naturally cause them to ask questions. The American Academy of Pediatrics has put together some great resources on how to speak with your children about racism in an honest and open way.
The decision to send your child back to daycare or summer camp really needs to be a personal decision. Everyone needs to weigh their family’s risks and benefits. If there is someone high risk in your household or who your family sees regularly, the risks outweigh the benefits. If there is no one high risk in your household, and the daycare/camp is following the listed CDC standard precautions, the benefits may outweigh the risks. A lot of children are struggling with sleep issues and extreme stress and anxiety. The benefit for those kids will be more than others who are handling this emotionally well. We will respect each family’s decision as long as you have been thoughtful about your choice.
Disease in children with COVID-19 continues to be relatively mild. The cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children also continue to be relatively rare. Recent literature has shown us that the biggest risk factor for illness in younger people is obesity. Please encourage your kids to exercise (play!), eat healthy, and decrease their screen time. Asthma is less of a risk factor than previously suggested, as long as symptoms are well controlled. We would like all the children who are currently on maintenance medication for asthma to please stay on these medications.
You can now book your child’s annual exam online. If your child is overdue for their annual exam, you can log on to the portal and make the appointment with your regular doctor. We are continuing to see well checks in the morning and early afternoon. We are saving spots in the late afternoon for sick children to be seen in the parking lot. We continue to see many of our sick appointments via telemedicine. Please call our office to schedule a sick visit if needed – either in person or over your phone/ computer.
Many summer camps have told parents to have their child tested for COVID-19 prior to drop off. We are currently not swabbing children for COVID-19 who simply need clearance for overnight camp but have no symptoms or known exposures. We do not have the testing bandwidth at this time, especially given the recent increase in exposures. If this changes, we will let you know. We recommend Austin Public Health Department, Baylor Scott&White, and CVS for such testing.
Our goal is to keep our office a safe clean space and limit everyone’s exposure. Things to know about your visit
If you read our last email, you know we have changed our EMR system. Thank you so much for being patient with us during this process. If you have not done so, please register for the patient portal. It will give you access to all of your child’s records and allow you to pay bills online. It will also allow you to pose clinical questions or concerns 24 hours a day. Please call our office if you are having trouble logging in.
On a final note, please try not to judge others for socializing too much or too little. Everyone needs to make their own decisions on risks vs. benefits. We are all trying to do our best with the information we have at hand. We hope you are doing your best to keep your family safe and sane.
We cannot wait until we can hug your sweet kids again. We appreciate what a wonderful parenting job you have all done during this incredibly challenging time. We love our families and are thankful for each of you.
All our best,