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Talking to my daughter about the latest coronavirus

It is all over the news and social media, so it is no surprise my daughter has heard about the latest coronavirus, COVID-19. Lexie brought it up last week when she was going to bed. She wanted to know if there had been anyone in our city diagnosed with it.

The answer was yes. We live in San Antonio, home of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, which received half of the passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that were sent here for quarantine. Of the 144 evacuees in San Antonio, eight of them were diagnosed with the new coronavirus. We also received 91 evacuees from Wuhan, China with only one of them testing positive.

Lackland Air Force Base is on the other side of town – about 30 miles from where we live. Those with the virus have been moved to a South Side hospital close to the base. This is nowhere near our subdivision.

Even though there are infected people in our city, I’m not worried about COVID-19 being transferred to my family. And I reassured Lexie that even if it spread, most healthy individuals who catch the virus will be just fine as this is not the first coronavirus. Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to become seriously ill.

The threat of COVID-19 or the virus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes it is low, and both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) state that standard precautionary actions are all that are needed at this time.

These are the same precautions you would take to avoid the flu or any other respiratory virus.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home if you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze either with a tissue or your elbow. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

And this is the information that I stressed to Lexie, who by the way received her information originally from CNN-10, a ten-minute educational news show that she watches weekly in one of her classes. Of course, as it happens with kids, there is also talk about it at lunch and between classes. I just want to make sure she is receiving correct information and not information distorted by her peers or the media. The best information can be found on the CDC or WHO websites – both that state people in the United States have little risk of exposure to the virus (at this time).

And while there are deaths related to COVID-19, I don’t want her to panic. Or think the next time she is sick that she has the coronavirus. I’ve already discussed with her that the symptoms – fever and cough – are quite common and just because she has them does not mean she has this virus. She is more likely to get the flu. And she, and the rest of our family, actually have quite a good immune system. None of us have been sick this school year, even with the flu hitting the schools in our area hard.

I know many people whether they are here in San Antonio or elsewhere are worried. I know of people who have stocked piled supplies or have cancelled upcoming trips. But neither of these – nor wearing a face mask (unless you are sick) – are recommended by the CDC or WHO.

I hope by letting her know I am aware of the virus and monitoring it, but not worried about it, that she will feel reassured. And more importantly, she will come to me with her questions and not to her friends.

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