- With the new BA.2.86 COVID-19 variant in the state right as school begins, Sparrow Health officials have some tips for parents to keep their kids healthy this school year.
- Educating kids at home and school on how to stay healthy plays a key role. Dr. Paul Entler said everyone should be washing their hands for at least 15 seconds, don't share toys, cover your mouth when you cough and keep areas clean and sterilized.
- Entler said parents should consider getting their children vaccinated and follow guidelines if they have been exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19.
(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)
With students back in the classroom University of Michigan Health-Sparrow Lansing wants parents to know how to keep their kids safe and healthy from COVID-19 and other illnesses this year.
“We want to focus on prevention,” said Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Entler.
Entler said educating kids at home and at school plays a key role in staying healthy.
“Not sharing toys, making sure work areas are cleaned and sterilized, and if you're going to cough, cover your mouth or you know with your arm,” Entler said.
He suggests having children watch videos on washing their hands for at least 15 second. He also advises parents to make sure their child is up to date on vaccines and get tested if anyone at home is showing symptoms of COVID-19.
“There's protocols in schools when somebody has a fever as well, because a lot of times, a fever is the first symptom and by that time you're quite infectious and you start spreading it around the classroom,” Entler said.
The new BA.2.86 variant has been confirmed in Michigan. Entler said a new vaccine booster is coming out in September and scientists are still doing research to see if this vaccine works on the new strain.
“It's hard to really keep up with every single variant," Entler said. "We'll have some protection. The scientists are still looking and evaluating whether it will have protected against this very new variant that came into the state a few days ago.”
Entler said Sparrow currently has 12 patients with COVID, one in the neonatal intensive care unit. He said they've had between 5 to 10 COVID patients at once over the last few months.
“COVID isn't the same disease that we saw even a year ago and if you recall back when that Omicron Delta inflection in terms of hospitalizations, it pretty much over run our system," Entler said. "We're not seeing that now and it's significantly much less.”
However, they are prepared if they begin to see an influx.
“We do have a plan in place if we come to that in terms of capacity treatments and therapeutics as well,” Entler said.
Like Sparrow, most schools in the area have a plan in place when it comes to responding to COVID-19.
Williamston Community Schools has guidelines for if someone tests positive while in school, a positive test for someone not at school and someone who may be exposed to COVID-19 in school or at home.
Each circumstance will be working closely with the local health departments, but in the meantime he suggests following the guidelines to prevent any type of sickness this fall.
“My advice is to act quickly if your child or yourself has symptoms that are different than any symptoms you have, to get tested and have a low suspicion that you may have COVID,” Entler said.
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