This guest post by Andrew Roszak, JD, MPA, EMT-P, Gryphon House author of Preschool Preparedness for an Active Shooter originally appeared on the Institute for Childhood Preparedness blog.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions for Early Childhood Educators and Parents
There is still much we do not know about the coronavirus. As new cases are identified we are learning more. We are also learning from other countries, as they continue to respond to this pandemic.
During our recent webinar, many of you had questions for our Executive Director, Andrew Roszak. We’ve compiled the questions below, and we thank you for taking the time to attend our important COVID-19 coronavirus webinar for the early childhood community!
Who Can Get Coronavirus?
It is important to note that everyone can potentially get coronavirus. New research has shown that it is likely that approximately 50% of those who get coronavirus will not show any signs or symptoms. In China, as many as 80% of confirmed cases became infected by someone who did not know they had the virus. In short, we must act as though everyone is potentially infected with the virus - that is why physical distancing is so important. Coronavirus does not just impact the elderly. In California, 72% of confirmed cases were adults aged 18-64. In New York, 54% of cases were individuals between the ages of 18 and 49.
What Characteristics Put an Individual at a Higher Risk?
Certain categories are more at risk for severe complications and/or death from coronavirus than others. According to the latest data from the CDC, those at highest risk include:
- People aged 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Other high-risk conditions could include:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment, HIV or AIDS
- People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
Does Hot Air Kill the Coronavirus?
No. From the evidence so far, coronavirus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid weather. The best way to protect yourself is by frequently washing your hands with soap and water. Also, be sure to limit the number of times you touch your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Is Food Safe to Eat?
Currently, no evidence suggests food is associated with the transmission of the coronavirus. Unlike foodborne viruses such as norovirus and hepatitis A, which often spread through contaminated food, coronavirus is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne transmission is not expected. For additional food safety questions please visit the National Environmental Health Association’s Coronavirus.
What is the Best Way to Protect Myself When Shopping for Groceries?
Ensuring that you take precautions at the grocery store, and at any time when you are in public is important. First, only go out if it is essential. Limit trips to the grocery store. Prepare a shopping list and only go when it is necessary. Be sure to wipe down shopping carts before use. Use plastic bags that can be disposed of, instead of reusable cloth bags. As the coronavirus can live on surfaces, it is important to wipe down plastic wraps, cardboard boxes, etc. once you arrive home. This informative video explains the steps you should take.
Should Child Care Programs Close?
The mandated closure of child care programs is a state by state decision. If your state does not mandate closure, then the decision to close a program is up to the program owners.
We have authored a blog post discussing this dilemma: Coronavirus: It is Time for Child Care Programs To Close.
Sample closure letter for early childhood programs to send to parents.
Our recommendation is for child care programs to close if possible. For those providing care to front-line emergency workers, we offer recommendations to help keep you safe in our online coronavirus course.
The Coronavirus Has Severely Impacted My Business and/or Job. I am Worried About Finances, What Can I Do?
There is an understandable concern about the financial impacts of the coronavirus. Many states have relaxed unemployment rules, to allow for payments for individuals negatively impacted by the coronavirus. Check with your state to see what types of unemployment assistance may be available. In some cases, this also includes individuals who have had their hours reduced due to coronavirus.
Also, the US Congress and President Trump have authorized a stimulus package, called the CARES Act, to help workers and business owners. This will include providing checks directly to the American public. The stimulus law passed on March 27, 2020 - more information should be forthcoming in the coming days.
Business owners are encouraged to explore grants, loans and emergency assistance offered by their states and the Small Business Administration.
For those early childhood programs funded by Head Start or CCBDG funds - check with the Administration for Children and Families and/or your lead agency for further information. The ACF Office of Head Start has determined that Head Start staff may receive wages for hours worked in another child care program, as long as the work they do is outside of the time they are expected to be available to support ongoing services to Head Start children and families.
ACF Office of Head Start has also determined that Head Start programs can use their facilities and staff to provide emergency child care for first responders' children, or enter a lease or use agreements with other child care providers with their staff to provide emergency child care services, as long as no Head Start funds are used in these arrangements.
We have created an online coronavirus training course for early childhood professionals, and the course is continually updated with new information. The cost is $19 for non-members, and free for Premium Preparedness Partners. Your contribution helps to fund our research and to keep us afloat during these trying times. We are grateful for every early childhood professional that takes our coronavirus online course, and those of you who are interested in investing in our full suite of online courses.
Guest Post By: Andrew Roszak, JD, MPA, EMT-P, Gryphon House author of Preschool Preparedness for an Active Shooter, and Executive Director at the Institute for Childhood Preparedness. Previously, he served as the Senior Director for Emergency Preparedness at Child Care Aware of America. He is a co-author of the Head Start Emergency Preparedness Manual.