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Summer and COVID-19: Tips from top pediatric doctor on how to keep your kids healthy

Erie County playgrounds are set to reopen next week
Posted at 12:00 AM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 01:39:42-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Playgrounds, parks and pools are three summer staples that may look different this summer as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Oishei's Chief Medical Officer offers guidance to parents on how to best keep their children safe and healthy.

“We all want to see the economy reopen, we want to try to get back to normal and I think we can do that if we do it in a safe way,” Dr. Stephen Turkovich, Chief Medical Officer at Oishei Children’s Hospital, said. He stressed to parents, continuing good health practices is essential to keep COVID-19 on the decline.

“We can achieve a close to the previous normal that we had if we do a couple of things. Number one we make sure if we’re sick or if we’ve been exposed to anyone, we stay home and we quarantine,” Dr. Turkovich said. He continued, “Number two wearing masks is really, really important especially if you’re in an enclosed area or inside. Number three social distance and number four wash your hands frequently.”

The Chief Medical Officer reminded parents that children under two should not wear a mask.

7 Eyewitness News reporter Nikki DeMentri asked Dr. Turkovich: “I spoke with some parents that say, it’s really hard to get kids to wear a mask. Any tips?”

He responded: “Really I would do a risk base strategy, so if they’re outside and running around and not around a lot of people, I wouldn’t push it. But if you’re going to be going inside to say a public restroom, then that’s the time I would say okay you really need to wear a mask.”

Dr. Turkovich also recommended: “Potentially have a few friends that you social distance with consistently.”

Next week, the swings at Erie County Parks will be back as playgrounds are set to reopen.

“Playground and exercise equipment are not sanitized by Erie County Parks staff. We highly recommend the use of hand sanitizer before, during and after and of course, use at your own risk,” Erie County Parks Commissioner Troy Schinzel said.

Dr. Turkovich added: “I think that’s [hand sanitizer] something that I would have in my pocket at all times. Really if your child or you are touching any public surfaces, always wash their hands right afterward.”

Several public pools are also set to reopen within the next few weeks. While wearing a mask to swim is unrealistic, Dr. Turkovich said it is important to wear it in crowded public pool spaces.

“Definitely wear the mask if you’re going to the locker room or anywhere like that,” he said.

Starting July 6th, six low-risk youth sports can also return. Dr. Turkovich points to CDC guidance on staying safe if your child plans to participate.

“Keeping them distanced when they’re on the sidelines. Potentially wearing a mask when you’re in the dugout and you’re next to each other is a good idea. When you’re out on the field, you’re socially distanced enough and you’re outside that the risk should be pretty low,” he said.

As for “Childhood Inflammatory Disease Related to COVID-19,” Dr. Turkovich said parents should be “on the lookout for [it],” but it does seem to be rare.

“The most consistent symptoms are persistent fever and abdominal pain associated with abdominal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. If your child has those certainly call your pediatrician,” Dr. Turkovich said. He continued, “If they’re feeling really lethargic or tired or not eating well or if it looks like they’re having difficulty breathing or if you listen to their heart of feel their heart and it’s racing, certainly come to the emergency room.”

Oishei has reported five cases to the state, in which four were suspected cases and one is a confirmed case. The child with a confirmed case remains at Oishei where Dr. Turkovich said the patient is “recovering well.” As of Wednesday, 211 cases of “Childhood Inflammatory Disease Related to COVID-19” were reported to the New York State Department of Health.