By Terry Harris
As back-to-school time nears and parents become increasingly concerned about how COVID-19 figures into plans for the fall, an alarming report surfaced Sunday from Nueces County, Texas. According to their public health director, 85 children under the age of two have tested positive for coronavirus in that one county alone since March 21, strongly contradicting a widespread belief that the coronavirus only affects the elderly.
Director Annette Rodriguez said of the infants included in the Nueces County report, “These babies have not even had their first birthdays yet. Please help us to stop the spread of this disease. Stay social distanced from others; stay protected. Wear a mask when in public and for everyone else please do your best to stay home.”
On Saturday, the World Health Organization reported a record number of 250,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases across the globe with the number of related global deaths now approaching 600,000 – of which the US accounts for 140,000. Added to their further report that most infections came from social gatherings, the cause for concern appears to be amplified.
While neither Sussex County nor Surry County is experiencing this sort of rise in the number of children infective at this time, with the increased concerns about the implications for the safety of children based on these new reports added to fears of parents contemplating sending their children back into a school environment, fact sheets for young adults just produced by the CDC are particularly timely. Geared specifically toward younger people, they cover topics like preventive measures for staying safe at the beach or pool and how to wear a face covering.
Below is an excerpt from the simplified information provided by the CDC suitable for sharing with the younger set as a help for easily sharing awareness of the importance of and methods for interacting safely during the pandemic.
“How does the virus spread? The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day use a tissue to cover your coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
It is not yet known whether weather and temperature affect the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like those that cause the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Each health department determines community spread differently based on local conditions. For information on community spread in your area, please visit your health department’s website.
At this time, CDC has no data to suggest that this new coronavirus or other similar coronaviruses are spread by mosquitoes or ticks. The main way that COVID-19 spreads is from person to person.
There is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and how it spreads. Coronaviruses are thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products, or packaging. However, it may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”