The Corona Virus (COVID-19) has been receiving a great deal of attention and like you, we are concerned. Many of you have asked if your children are at higher risk for getting the virus and/or for complications from the virus. Our sons and daughters of all ages are not at any higher risk than others to become infected. However, despite no current reports of children having serious outcomes from the virus, those of our children with heart conditions are likely to be at greater risk for complications should they get sick.
Further, there have been questions about the feasibility of travel and group events such as the walks in May and the national convention this summer. It's still too soon to know if travel, and gathering for the convention will be a concern but we, along with our incredible team of advisors, are watching developments closely and will let everyone know immediately if information is received that necessitates a change in plans.
What about right now? Everyone should be paying close attention to reports from their local health authorities and the CDC. If you are in an area of the country where concerns are high, please pay very close attention to the general guidelines below and additionally follow the directions you are receiving from local authorities, especially those concerning large group events and crowded areas. We are now looking at each event currently scheduled (particularly the walks) and considering safe alternatives such as rescheduling for the fall, or another time when we know everyone will be safe, or alternate options such as virtual events, in the areas that have been hit the hardest by the virus.
Our advisors are counseling us that, for most of us, now is the time for precaution, but not for major changes in our daily lives. Click here for an excellent Q&A about the virus, which was recently posted by Dr. Paul Sax, the clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and a wonderful infographic on proper hand washing technique. Right now, the best things we can all do to help prevent an infection are to:
- Ensure frequent proper handwashing by EVERY member of the family - especially in public restrooms and other common public surfaces.
- Keep your hands away from your face as much as possible.
- Sneeze into your arm/elbow/sleeve or into a disposable tissue
- Use elbows/arms and the backs of your hands as much as possible when touching public surfaces (such as when pushing elevator buttons or pushing open doors).
- Washing hands with soap AND water for 20-30 seconds reduces contamination of the hands significantly. Longer washing = fewer germs!
We all know how much our kids enjoy hugs, high fives and other forms of touching to show affection. Now might be a great time to work on limiting those behaviors...fist bumps spread about 50% fewer germs than high fives, and elbow bumps may be an even better alternative for the foreseeable future!
And if you are wondering how to easily time 20 seconds of hand washing... just have your child recite the ABC's or even sing Happy Birthday...twice!
As we know more from the CDC and other agencies, along with our medical experts, we will share to our community. We are being counseled by our medical experts that is too soon for discussions about cancelling our national convention, but we have taken the steps to reschedule events for the rest of March and in April and likely May. In general, virus seasons don’t typically extend into the summer and we are hoping that will be true for COVID-19 and the convention will not be disrupted. We will keep everyone updated. Thank you for your patience.
New: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act goes into affect April 1. Read about how it may help you here.
--Terry Monkaba and the WSA