An update…and masks and such

We sincerely hope that this post finds you and your family well. As we continue to see a rapid rise in cases across the southern United States (including Texas) and as August quickly approaches, we are facing decisions surrounding return to school, return to daycare, and much more.

Abilene, unfortunately, has not been immune to the current surge and as the graph below portrays, we are just passed our projected local peak in cases. Check out this video from Brad Holland, Hendrick CEO, about how we’re doing from a bed capacity standpoint here in Abilene.

Districts are now starting to release their plans for return to school next month and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has put out guidelines concerning return to school. We encourage you to visit your child’s school district’s website for specific details of their plans as they begin to be shared. Check out the AAP’s statement about return to school.

Next item….masks. But first, some points of clarification:

We should be very clear, as pediatricians and nurse practitioners who consider our call to care for your children as one that is sacred and to which we are ethically and morally bound and as providers who also count ourselves as lucky and blessed that you entrust us with this responsibility, please know that our decisions and advice have absolutely nothing to do with politics…ever. We are physician scientists and make our decisions based on science. Unfortunately, science is not always so simple as we would all like. Part of the reason that the pandemic has been so divisive in the US is because people who are rarely, if ever, involved with the scientific method are seeing science unfold in real-time. Errors, evidence (of different levels), and changing methodology happen 100% of the time. In the public eye this process playing out has been misconstrued as scientists being wrong at best or making attempts at purposeful misguidance at worst. Politicians, news organizations, and other media outlets often latch on to conclusions of individual studies (which are parts of this process) that only tell a small part of a story that is still being written every day and report them as if they are the final chapter. Division in our great nation currently is deeply saddening to us as Christians, fellow Americans, and as physicians. We are praying for healing and unification in our country.

Deep breath…and on to masks. Just wear one, please. Wear one because you care about your neighbor and you’re putting them before yourself. You do care about your neighbor right? If we are defined as a Christian city and a Christian nation, this seems like it would be a simple decision. Wear one because they can (and that process mentioned above is consistently pointing toward this conclusion) help to slow the spread of this pandemic. We don’t like doing it either, but it’s not really about us as individuals, it’s about us as a community. Here is a good video with some tips on helping your children wear masks. Here are some other things science currently concludes regarding wearing masks:

They don’t deprive your body of oxygen or make you retain dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. These gas molecules are much, much smaller than the virus, and the virus has to travel in droplets of moisture (you know, spit or condensation). Here’s a video that attempts to show this. Pardon the quality and the slight nerdy character of the scientists. But what do you expect, they are scientists after all. We never claim to be cool.
So if they keep virus out, why can I still smell other people’s toots? Glad you asked. Check out this explanation and follow Dear Pandemic on Facebook. We haven’t screened all of their posts, but the ones we’ve seen are good information
They don’t hurt your immune system. No good evidence to suggest this. We can just leave that right there.
Wearing a mask doesn’t mean you have a certain political persuasion. No, we as pediatricians aren’t social or political scientists. But this one feels pretty obvious and was low hanging fruit.
***NOT SCIENTIFICALLY VERIFIED BULLET POINT*** You can totally accessorize with them. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take that opportunity?
Are there some scenarios which may be legitimate exceptions? Sure, but not many. As a general rule, kids under 2 years and some serious heart or lung conditions may fall into this bullet point. Call and talk to us if you think your child’s situation might be one of these and we’ll guide you through it.
Last but not least. As cases surge potential exposures do too. We continue to receive a lot of questions regarding what to do with potential exposures. All scenarios can’t be covered here but keep these few things in mind:

Second and third degree exposures are not cause for concern and these patients DO NOT NEED tested if they don’t have symptoms. (i.e. my child was around someone who was around someone who had COVID-19. Or My child stayed with her aunt last week who works at Starbucks where a fellow employee’s husband has tested positive for COVID-19. You get the idea).
Both “antigen” and the “PCR” test are currently available at the COVID Clinic where we are sending most patients. Both are nasal swabs. Neither is comfortable.
“Antibody” testing should not be used independently as a way to diagnose you or your child with COVID-19
We hope to have testing in our office in the near future….let’s say a little over a month. Stay tuned.
Here is a helpful download to help you know what to do if your child is exposed.
As always, thank you for trusting us with the care of your awesome kids. We are always grateful,

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