Who’s ready for a little COVID-19 Q & A?! As you might imagine, I am getting tons of questions right now about coronavirus ranging from how to avoid getting sick to what to do if you’re pregnant and have COVID-19.
Is social distancing worth it?
Remember that this distancing that we’re doing is helping. All of the research confirms this. If you can stay home when you would rather be going out, it really makes a difference. And even though we’re still going to see the spread of Coronavirus over the next few weeks, I want you not to be tempted to say, “Oh, this distancing isn’t working.” These are cases that were going to happen anyway and there are going to be so many fewer of them in the next couple of weeks because of what you’re doing right now.
Should I be wearing a mask?
If you’re not sick, you don’t need to wear a mask unless you’re caring for somebody who does have an infection and only when you’re in that area. Generally, you don’t need to wear the mask to the grocery store or driving in your car.
COVID-19 is not spread in the community via aerosol. What that means is that you get sick if somebody coughs on you or they cough into their hand or sneeze and then touch you. That’s why we’re doing all the handwashing right now to help control the spread. But it doesn’t hang around in the air. So a mask is not going to help keep you from being sick unless somebody who has this virus coughs or sneezes on you or touches you without washing their hands.
How can I keep my kids safe at home?
The next question I’m seeing a whole lot of is how can I keep my kids safe at home? For parents of young families, the answer is to probably do exactly what you’re already doing. Stay home as much as possible.
If kids normally go to school, they should pretty much stay home. You shouldn’t host other families at your house any more than you can, and kids need to learn how to wash their hands regularly. If they do get sick, they’re likely to not be as sick as an older adult. But if your child goes to play with a neighbor’s family and brings this home and exposes you, or an elderly person, or somebody with a chronic disease, that’s not great.
So everybody Stay Home! Get out and take a walk if you want to and wave at people. But don’t get too close and wash your hands before cooking food, whenever you go to the bathroom, or whenever you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
How long people are contagious?
If you were exposed to someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19, how does that affect you? Or if you have the virus, how long are you contagious? The incubation period for this virus is anywhere between a few days and a couple of weeks. If you have a known exposure to somebody with a confirmed case of coronavirus, then you should not be around a lot of people. You should be very, very careful for at least a couple of weeks. And then if you don’t get sick, then good. You can go back to your normal precautions.
For people who have COVID-19 infection, we think that you’re contagious until you’re really on the mend. You’re shedding the most virus when you first become infected.
And then when you’re feeling really crummy and you have a fever, you’re definitely contagious. And after that, the level of contagiousness decreases pretty rapidly. But until you are completely fever-free and your cough goes away, you need to stay at home!
How long does this virus live on various surfaces?
That leads us to our next question: how long does this virus live on various surfaces? It does tend to last two or three days on countertops, maybe 24 hours on porous surfaces like cardboard.
I get asked, “Is it okay to check the mail or to touch the package that I ordered on Amazon that’s coming over from China or Italy or someplace like that?” We have no documented cases of coronavirus being spread through the mail, by checking your mail, or by touching envelopes or cardboard packages.
In the final section, we’re addressing questions that are specific to pregnancy.
What we’re doing in our office is screening patients before they get to the office. Most of our routine OB patients get a phone call the day before and are asked to reschedule if they have symptoms of infection and they’re not seriously ill.
It’s a good idea to call your OB provider’s office the day before or the day of your appointment and ask how they are managing things. We have been asking patients to wait in their cars and then we call them on their cell phones when it’s time to come up. That way, they’re not in the waiting room with anybody and we can control the flow of traffic in there. I recommend calling your provider to find out how they’re managing their offices and appointments during this crisis.
How to manage a pregnancy during the coronavirus crisis?
For our pregnant patients, and in all the hospitals where I’m working, there are isolation areas. We definitely have planned for this. If you’re sick and you think you may have COVID-19, call before you go to the hospital or let somebody know that you’re coming in because you don’t want to walk into an emergency department feeling ill or be exposed to potentially infected people.
Let somebody know either on the phone or the minute you come in the door, what you’re concerned about so that you can be taken to an isolated area for screening and testing. Pregnant women aren’t necessarily more likely to get the disease, but they might be a little more likely to get sicker if they do get the illness. So if you are pregnant or postpartum and you think you may have Coronavirus or you have a known exposure, call your OB provider and find out what to do with regard to labor and delivery.
If I have COVID-19 will I need a C-Section?
You don’t necessarily need to deliver by cesarean section. It’s not going to protect your baby.
So far there have been no reported cases of vertical transmission.
What that means is that we haven’t found the coronavirus in the blood of babies of moms who have the infection. So moms can certainly give their babies the infection if they cough on them. However, during the birth process, it doesn’t seem to be transmitted that way. Talk with your doctor about this and figure out a birth plan that makes both of you comfortable.
Can I breastfeed if I have the Coronavirus?
Last of all, once you’ve had your baby, you might be wondering if you can breastfeed if you have coronavirus? The answer is yes, because breast milk is still the very best nutrition for your baby. If you have an active coronavirus infection and you want to breastfeed we recommend moms wear a mask and wash their hands very carefully before touching their baby.
But you could also use a breast pump as an alternative. You need to wash your hands pretty carefully before using a breast pump or any part of a breast pump or bottle. You can still give your baby breast milk that you have expressed with a breast pump or hand expressed. Your milk can then be given to someone else to feed your baby until your fever and symptoms are all gone.
That is all for now but please do not hesitate to leave your questions or comments below. I’ll be updating you every few days as things become more clear. Please keep sending me your questions.
Sending you lots of love and support as you stay at home binge-watching TV, trying new dishes and new ways to cook canned food that you’ve probably had in your pantry for a long time.
Feeling stressed? Try some self-care.
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