With the recent influx of COVID-19 cases being diagnosed in the United States, what should families of children involved in sports focus on? And is this abundance of caution warranted?
I spoke with Dr. Katherine H. Rizzone, an Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center for some answers. A member of PRiSM, a research organization that specializes in pediatric sports medicine, here are her five tips for how to bring some common sense to dealing with coronavirus.
1. Rest is Best. Do not have your child participate in sports or play with other kids when they are ill. Fever and non-fever illnesses can lead to dehydration and poor heat regulation and cause muscle damage and other health conditions. Do not let your child play if they are ill. Staying home if you are sick or keeping your child home if they are sick are very important responsible actions to take, whether or not there is a pandemic.
2. Not Sharing is Caring. Discourage water and drink bottle sharing, which means teams should consider not offering communal water jugs. The same applies to equipment sharing. All common equipment, like balls and racquets, should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
3. Keep Your Distance. Social distancing should be encouraged. That means common interactions like handshakes, high-fives, chest bumps, huddles and group celebrations at games and practices need to end for the time being. Social distancing should be considered appropriate on and off the field. We are fortunate to live in the internet age with video/FaceTime calls and other ways to stay in touch even if you can’t be there in person.
4. The 20 Second Rule. Twenty seconds is the minimum length of time you should wash your hands. Wash when you get home. Wash before you eat. Wash after practices and games. Wash all the time. And when you can’t wash, be prepared by carrying (and using!) hand sanitizer.
5. Get Your Flu Shot. Make sure everyone in the family has a flu shot. Why? With the current available data from China, South Korea and Italy (three of the largest outbreak areas of COVID-19) children have had mild symptoms from COVID-19. While there have not been any reported deaths in the 0-9-year-old range for COVID-19, 136 children have been reported to have died from flu in the last five months. Take the flu seriously. While the flu shot won’t stop new COVID-19 infections, it will result in fewer people stressing hospitals and emergency rooms due to the flu.
Overall, children have been very asymptomatic with COVID-19, which is a relief, but also means they could unknowingly have the virus and pass it on to others. From what we know at this point, adults older than 70 are at much higher risk of becoming very ill with this virus. For older parents, grandparents, neighbors and coaches, this risk should be acknowledged, particularly those with heart and lung diseases (heart failure, previous heart attacks,COPD). People who have altered immune systems, for example are on a medication that decreases their immune system or are getting treatment for cancer, are also at high risk of becoming quite ill.Washing hands, not sharing equipment and sitting further apart from each other at events are all ways that may help decrease the infection risk. The number of diagnosed cases will increase in the next few weeks as the testing for COVID-19 increases, but you can slow this progression and help keep your family and young athletes safe with these few tips.
Washing hands, not sharing equipment and sitting further apart from each other at events are all ways that may help decrease the infection risk. The number of diagnosed cases will increase in the next few weeks as the testing for COVID-19 increases, but you can slow this progression and help keep your family and young athletes safe with these few tips.
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