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Kansas City-area medical experts answer your COVID-19 questions

Posted at 11:04 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 00:04:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With a national emergency declaration and cases growing in Missouri and Kansas, the global COVID-19 pandemic is at the top of many people's minds.

To answer your questions and concerns, 41 Action News brought together several medical experts from the Kansas City area Friday to take viewers questions during our coronavirus phone bank.

Below are some of the questions they were able to answer.

Our panelist included Dr. Joyce Moore, who is in private practice; Laura Kresl, a public health specialist with KCMO Health Department; Dr. Toni S. Zink from the Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center; Dr. Angela Myers and Dr. Jennifer Schuster, who both specialize in pediatric infectious diseases at Children's Mercy Hospital.

Question: What's the main difference in symptoms that sets coronavirus apart from the flu?

Myers: Influenza has very similar symptoms to this, although oftentimes you might have muscle aches and pains too that are more prominent with the flu and not as prominent with coronavirus. However, the symptoms are pretty similar, so if you have mild respiratory symptoms it's just as likely that you have a routine virus causing your infection.

Q: How long does it take once you've been infected for symptoms to show up?

Moore: They are saying about 14 days, so if a person quarantines themselves for 14 days then that's usually the time period that the coronavirus virus will show up.

Q: If you were around someone who tested positive, but you're not showing symptoms, should you get tested?

Moore: I'm telling patients if they do have a fever and if they do have a cough then they should go to the doctor. Have the doctor check them for any symptoms, any respiratory symptoms, any lung symptoms and then have a chest X-ray because this virus is showing up in the lungs.

Q: Can people just come to the doctor and get the coronavirus test?

Zink: No, they cannot. We do not have that test or access to that test at this time. We've been told the test will be available through private laboraties and our Missouri insurance will approve paying for that test if you meet certain criteria.

Q: Are you expecting the criteria to change?

Zink: I do. I think as we learn more about the virus everything will evolve.

Q: Do you expect to see a surge of positive coronavirus cases?

Kresl: If this is going to follow like it has for every other country, then there will be a surge. Not only a surge in testing numbers, because when you test more, you will find more. So, not only end with more people becoming ill, then it also, in all likelihood, it creates the chance that more people will get it. The more people who have it, more people will get it. So, there will be a surge.

Q: What do you want parents to understand about coronavirus when it comes to kids?

Schuster: We actually think kids are less susceptible to contract the virus compared to older adults. We're not seeing the severity of disease in our children that we are in our older population.

Myers: We are telling parents this is a good time to teach your child proper hand washing, 20 seconds at a time with soap and water, and keep your social distance. This is not the time to take your kid to the play gym.

Q: What about newborn babies? What is your advice to parents?

Myers: I think it's a really good idea to stay home and really make sure that people who are coming to see the baby are well, that they are washing their hands and not kissing on the baby and spreading germs. It's OK to be selfish and keep you and your baby home.

Q: How do you isolate yourself at home if you need to self-quarantine with others living there?

Schuster: I think the biggest thing that you can do is practice hand-washing. You're gonna want to make sure everybody's using their own toothbrush and you're not sharing items. Wash your hands before you're sitting down to eat and keep people away. Also, refrain from touching the same surfaces, like toys, as much as possible. Be vigilant, clean and wash your hands.

Q: When will it be over?

Myers: We really don't know when it will be over. It could be weeks from now, it could be months from now.