When Is It Safe to See My Grandkids?
Some states that issued stay-at-home orders in the wake of COVID-19 are starting to reopen for business. If it’s safe for you to go get your hair cut, shouldn’t that mean it’s safe for you to see your grandchildren?
Maybe. Maybe not.
As you weigh the decision about when to see your grandchildren, consider the latest scientific information available. These are just a few findings to keep in mind.
You can spread the virus with no symptoms.
The first confirmation of asymptomatic transmission was back in February. A case study in the Journal of the American Medical Association described a young woman in China who passed the virus to five family members without ever being sick. Other studies have shown pre-symptomatic transmission, meaning you can spread the virus days before symptoms appear.
Until there is a vaccine, it’s possible that you, or someone in your grandchild’s household, can unknowingly have and transmit the virus.
Children can get sick from the novel coronavirus.
Adults make up most of the known cases of COVID-19, but children do get sick from the novel coronavirus. A recent study published in Pediatrics described COVID-19 symptoms in Chinese children. Around half had mild symptoms. These were similar to symptoms of the common cold, although some of the children had only digestive problems. Nearly 40 percent had “moderate” symptoms, which involved pneumonia, fevers and coughing.
Consider that moderate is a relative term. For the child with a fever, or the parents nursing their sick children, illness can be distressing.
Your grandchildren can get you sick.
Even kids who haven’t left their homes in months can carry the virus. That’s because mom or dad can bring it home from the grocery store, office or other businesses they are starting to frequent now that doors are re-opening.
Research recently published in The Lancet looked at children who tested positive for coronavirus. Half of them had mild disease – the kind that doesn’t raise alarm bells. That can put you, as a visiting grandparent, at risk for a major health crisis.
After 65, you’re more likely to experience severe illness and worse outcomes from COVID-19. According to the CDC, nearly 60 percent of adults ages 65 to 84 with COVID-19 end up in the hospital.
None of these findings should be considered the final word, because information is continually evolving. And none of these findings mean you cannot see your grandchildren until there is a vaccine, which won’t happen for at least a year.
If you do visit them, or have them visit you, take as many precautions as you can to keep everyone safe. Don’t get too close, for example: As much as you want to hug and kiss your grandkids, you should maintain the six-foot social distancing recommendations. And be sure everybody frequently washes their hands with soap and water, including when you or they walk in the door.