Knowledge is power—and we want you to feel empowered, not panicked. Here are answers to someof the most commonly-asked questions from parents about coronavirus.
What should we do if there are coronavirus cases nearby?Experts advise that the best course of action to avoid transmitting or spreading the virus is topracticesocial distancing: Basically, avoid unnecessary travel, stick close to home and do not gather in large groups.Health regulations vary widely from state to state (and even from town to town) depending onwhether cases are rising or falling locally.The most important thing you can do is to stay informed about local virus transmission rates andpublic health directives in your area.In addition to social distancing, experts agree thatwearing a maskin public places, particularly while indoors, helps prevent asymptomatic transmission of the viruswhile also helping protect at-risk people such as pregnant women, the elderly and frontline andemergency workers. TheCDCrecommends wearing a mask wherever it is difficult to maintain social distance, especially if thevirus is active in your area.While dealing with closures and lifestyle changes due to social distancing may be stressful, socialdistancing and masks are both important weapons in "flattening the curve" of the infection'sspread.For more resources:
What are the symptoms of coronavirus? The CDC has updated its listSymptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, may include fever, coughing and difficulty breathingor shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDCrecently updated its list of symptoms to include congestion or runny nose, nausea and diarrhea ascoronavirus symptoms.Unfortunately for parents everywhere, all of these are alsocommon symptoms of colds and flu. The chart above breaks down how the symptoms of coronavirus differ from the symptoms of cold,flu, RSV and seasonal allergies.Symptoms that are more unique to COVID-19 include aloss of taste or smell, in addition to chills, muscle pain and shaking due to chills. Some studies have also noted thatskin lesions on the toes or hands, sometimes referred to asCOVID toes, can occur in children and adults with the virus.
If anyone in my family has symptoms, what should we do?TheCDC advisesthat you call your doctor or health care provider if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus thatinclude high fever, cough or shortness of breath. Your doctor will be able to provide next stepsfor your care as well as help you get tested.Emergency warning signsfor COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion or inabilityto arouse and blueness in the lips or face. These symptoms are signs that you should call 911immediately. The operator should be told that you that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19.If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.Other steps to take if you experience symptoms, asrecommended by the CDC:
- Stay home except to get medical care.
- Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible.
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
- Wear a face mask if you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid sharing personal household items.
- Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day.
- Monitor your symptoms and call your doctor immediately if your symptoms worsen.
What can I do to keep my family from getting sick?While there's no silver bullet that will prevent coronavirus, experts recommend frequenthand-washing, cleaning high-touch surfaces in the house regularly (here'show to clean your house to prevent coronavirus) and paying close attention to hygiene.There are also some simple actions you can take to helpboost your family's immune systemsoverall, such as getting enough sleep and eating healthful foods. And of course,social distancing is the top method health professionals recommendto prevent yourself—and others—from transmitting the virus.More resources about how coronavirus impacts children, babies, and moms-to-be:
Is it okay to take kids out to public places? Can we go to the playground?Especially if you live in an area where the number of cases is rapidly rising, experts recommendusing an abundance of caution and staying home as much as possible. That means not scheduling anyunnecessary social gatherings like birthday parties, sleepovers and play dates. Playgrounds arealso not advised right now, although if you are lucky enough to live in an area where cases andhospitalizations are low and declining,some summer activities (like going to the beach) are considered lower risk.Social distancing for familiesis hard, but it's so important to take it seriously. Taking kids to ride bikes or for awalk—where it's easy to maintain space between people—is okay, but taking kids toshopping centers, playgrounds and other public places where large numbers of people gather in closecontact is discouraged.Right now, the best place for kids to play is at home.More ideas for keeping kids busy during the coronavirus pandemic:
Is it safe to travel with kids?The answer is changing every day, butexperts say that local travel by car is perfectly safe. It may be wisest to postpone family vacations through the summer, though.The CDC's guidelines for nonessential travel are basically a decision tree, encouraging individualsto consider the following questions:
- Is COVID-19 spreading where you're going?You can get infected while traveling.
- IsCOVID-19 spreadingin your community?Even if you don't have symptoms, you can spread COVID-19 to others while traveling.
- Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip?Being within 6 feet of others increases your chances of getting infected and infecting others.
- Are you or those you are traveling withmore likely to get very ill from COVID-19?Older adults and people of any age who have a serious underlying medical condition are at higherrisk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Do you live with someone who ismore likely to get very ill from COVID-19?If you get infected while traveling you can spread COVID-19 to loved ones when you return, even ifyou don't have symptoms.
How do I tell my kids about coronavirus?Talking to your kids about coronavirus is important, whether you're soothing their worries orsimply reminding them about the importance of good hand washing. The potential for disruption todaily life is high, but the CDC still says the risk to children is low.Be calm, meet your child where they are in terms of their interest level in the news and rememberthat it's okay not to have all the answers.More resources for talking with kids about coronavirus + social distancing and managing theirfears:
What do pregnant women need to know about coronavirus?Preventing exposure to coronavirus if you are pregnantThe American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has notedprecautions that pregnant women and nursing women should take to help limit their exposure tocoronavirusandstresses that pregnant women should stay in touch with their care providersto be advised of the most recent protocols.Here are thecurrent guidelines for pregnant women from ACOG:
- Pregnant people should report concerning symptoms immediately: these include fever, cough, andchest tightness or difficulty breathing.
- Providers will be following a detailedalgorithmwhen deciding when to test pregnant people for COVID-19. The primary criteria involve assessing thepresence ofcoronavirus symptoms.
- Regarding travel, pregnant women (like all people) should adhere to theCenters for Disease Control recommendations for specific areas, in addition to consulting with their providers.
- ACOG does not currently recommend that women change their labor + delivery plans in response to thepandemic.
- ACOG also does not endorse that women plan to give birth at home rather than at their hospital,noting that "ACOG believes that the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital,hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center" as opposed to giving birth athome.
Follow advice from the CDC, your OB-GYN and your primary health care provider.
- Stay home except to get medical care. Avoid public transportation.
- Speak with your health care team over the phone before going to their office. Get medical careright away if you feel worse or think it's an emergency.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home.
- Wear a face mask when you are around other people and when you go to get medical care.
Can I start IVF during the COVID-19 pandemic?If you are about to start IVF, you should speak with your reproductive endocrinologist about whether they are starting any IVFcycles at this time, and about the risks of going forward with your cycle. Motherly's educationeditor and certified nurse midwife Diana Spalding recommends that people consider freezing theirembryos and not do a fresh transfer right now—we are still learning a lot about the impactsof coronavirus on pregnancy so delaying conception a bit may decrease the chance of potential risksassociated with the infection.According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), little is known abouttheimpact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and infants, and it is unclear if COVID-19 can cross the placenta. Since pregnant women are at higher risk ofcomplications from similar respiratory infections,pregnant women are considered an "at-risk population" for COVID-19.The data on coronavirus infections in pregnancy is minimal. Providing care for pregnant women withsevere infections will possibly be more difficult and resource-intensive. Some of the drugs thatare being considered for treatment may not be usable in pregnant women, for instance.It may be best to postpone your cycle for multiple reasons, including unknown risks of infectionduring pregnancy, desire to minimize in-person interactions, and preserving medical resources forurgent COVID-19 patients.
When will kids go back to school?As of this update,school closureshave impacted public and private schools and preschools in all 50 states. Thetimeline for going back to school depends on where you live.TheAmerican Academy of Pediatricshopes to see students in schools come September. Inrecently released guidanceon school re-entry, the AAP "strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the comingschool year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school."When school does reopen in the fall, it is likely that additional cleaning and social distancingmeasures will be in place, regardless of where you live. The CDC has published detailedrecommendations for schools for local districts to implement as best they can. Theserecommendations for safely reopening schoolsinclude:
- Training staff and teachers to prevent transmission of the virus and to recognize signs of illness
- Promoting hand washing and healthy hygiene practices
- "Intensifying" cleaning, disinfection and ventilation
- Employees wearing cloth masks, "as feasible"
- Maintaining social distancing by increasing spacing and creating small groups that don't intermix
What should I do if I can't pay my bills because I'm out of work?We understand this is a tough time right now, mama, and not everyone is getting paid while they'reout of work. Thefederal government has announced relief paymentsfor people affected by the pandemic andpushed back the tax deadline to July 15, although if you qualify for a refund, you should file earlier. There are a few additional thingsyou can do if you're facing hardship:
- Call your landlord or the bank that holds your mortgage and discuss your options during a pandemic.Somestates are seeking to ban evictions during the pandemic.
- Contact your credit card company and ask about payment plan options, or if there are any interestdeferrals during a time of crisis.
- If you have student loan payments, interest payments on federal loans have been paused during thepandemic. Speak to your loan provider to see if there are any other resources available.
- Contact your local diaper bank if you cannot afford more diapers. You canfind one close to you here.
- Here's what to doif you cannot afford baby formula, or if you cannot find baby formula in your area. We're also trackingplaces where parents can find formula, diapers and wipes.
- Here'swhere to find free and low-cost food during the pandemic.
- Call your representatives in state and municipal government. Some areas are making plans to helpthose hit by financial hardship during this time.
How do I work from home with kids around?With offices across the country encouraging workers to clock in remotely, and schools closing indistrict after district, finding a way to work from home with kids is a high priority for a growingnumber of parents. It's definitely possible—and we've got lots ofwork from home strategiesto help (the entire staff at Motherly works from home—almost all of us with kids—sowe're all right there with you, mama).
[This post was originally published April 3, 2020. It has been updated.]