Local pediatrician office pausing COVID-19 testing on asymptomatic patients

WESTCHASE, Florida — Children’s Medical Center staff receive nearly 1,000 calls a day from concerned parents that their children may be exposed to COVID-19.

“We’ve never seen such volumes or numbers,” says Dr. Lisa Cronin, pediatrician at the Children’s Medical Center.

While the phone rings, doctors and nurses work around the clock to care for sick children.

“We have so many sick patients that unfortunately most of our places for visits are taken by children who need immediate medical care at the time,” said Dr. Cronin.

It’s one of the reasons testing for kids who don’t have symptoms is being postponed for the time being, so pediatricians like Dr. Cronin and Dr. Beatrice Sankey can focus on the critical need that comes in.

“We want to do it, but logistically it’s not possible right now. If you’re going to decide if you’re going to see someone with no symptoms or someone who is sick and needs a medical problem, we need to see the sick patient,” Cronin said.

They also still face shortages of PCR testing — which is the test recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics because it can pick up traces of the virus even in asymptomatic patients.

“It’s proven very, very difficult to get your hands on those swabs,” she said.

She says this is the test parents want to get, over the “quick” test, because it’s much more reliable. But she says parents should wait at least 5 days before testing for better accuracy.

“Timing is very important. If you take the test too quickly, you’ll get a false negative result,” said Dr. Sankey.

Both doctors say the results can take a little while and it’s best to just quarantine for 10 days, according to CDC guidelines.

If a child is exposed at home, they should be quarantined right away and if they start showing symptoms, the 10-day quarantine will start the day the symptoms appear. But she says that children who are masked and are around someone with COVID don’t have to go into quarantine, which is why she says you should mask your children.

“Instead of dealing with the aftermath of the quarantine, let’s do everything we can to prevent the quarantine in the first place,” said Dr. Cronin.

She hopes that with these proactive measures, numbers will begin to decline and things can return to normal.

Kids can still get tested in places throughout the Bay Area. CVS and Walgreens will test. There are also locations in the province that are open for testing.

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