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AAP postpones leadership conference, shares COVID-19 guidance :

March 10, 2020
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Editor's note: For the latest news on coronavirus disease 2019, visit https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/01/28/coronavirus.

The AAP is postponing its Annual Leadership Forum (ALF) amid growing cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Federal health officials are encouraging increased measures to prevent community spread of the virus, and AAP President Sara “Sally” H. Goza, M.D., FAAP, said the AAP wants to minimize the risk to members who had planned to travel to the forum later this week.

“The ALF is a crucial meeting where our leaders across the chapters, committees, councils and sections give feedback and direction that sets the course of the AAP, and we are committed to finding a way to do this important work at a future date,” Dr. Goza said.

Managing patients and infection control

More than 800 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and case counts are increasing rapidly, especially as testing becomes more widely available.

“It’s fair to say that as the trajectory of the outbreak continues, many people in the United States will at some point in time either this year or next be exposed to this virus, and there’s a good chance many will become sick,” said Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “But … based on what we know about this virus, we do not expect most people to develop serious illness.”

So far, children appear to be a small proportion of those getting severely ill. Clinicians should use their judgment in determining which patients require COVID-19 testing. The CDC recommends considering the presence of symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), travel history, contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient and local epidemiology, and ruling out other potential causes of illness.

Ann-Christine Nyquist, M.D., M.S.P.H., FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, encourages pediatricians and AAP chapters to stay in close communication with their public health departments about the spread of the virus in their community.

Dr. Nyquist also recommends that health care staff follow environmental cleaning guidance in their offices and review the AAP policy Infection Prevention and Control in Pediatric Ambulatory Settings, which recommends common sense strategies to prevent the spread of viruses.

Pediatricians can play a crucial role in calming patients and parents who are concerned about exposure. In addition, they can teach patientshow to protect themselves from illness by washing their hands properly and often, avoiding those who are sick and getting a flu shot.

Vaccines and drugs for COVID-19 are being developed, but are not yet available, and families should be mindful of companies making false claims. The Food and Drug Administration recently warned seven companies selling products such as teas, essential oils and colloidal silver that they claimed could prevent or treat COVID-19.

Clinicians can learn more about infection prevention and control measures in inpatient obstetric health care settings as well as resources to care for pediatric patients during a CDC webinar from 2-3 p.m. EDT on March 12. It also will be available on demand afterward. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/38EIrNk.

Preparation and protection for high-risk groups

Pediatricians also should be aware of how to protect themselves and their staff. Those most at risk of serious illness are people ages 60 and older and those with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. The CDC recently released new guidance on how these groups can prepare:

  • Stock up on supplies like routine medications and groceries.
  • Take everyday precautions like washing hands often, disinfecting your home, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public and avoid touching your face, nose and eyes.
  • Avoid crowds and keep away from others who are sick.
  • Have a plan if you get sick.

Dr. Goza also said it’s not too late to encourage health care workers to be vaccinated against flu.

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