As cases of the new coronavirus continued to be confirmed in Texas licensed child care centers, Governor Greg Abbott ordered new rules Tuesday, less than two weeks after the state removed previous emergency restrictions for providers.
Child care centers, such as day care centers, before and after school programs, and registered homes, have not been required to apply measures such as disease screening since June 12, when providers were notified by email that the rules emergency were no longer in force. In effect, a decision made by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Under the governor’s reopening plan, child care centers can operate with normal occupancy limits from June 3.
On Tuesday, Abbott ordered Health and Human Services to enact new rules as COVID-19 cases increase and hospitalizations increase across the state. The governor’s order does not specify what the new standards will be. Kelli Weldon, a press officer for Health and Human Services, said the department is still working on developing new emergency rules.
Although not required to do so, the state is “encouraging” child care centers to follow the guidance provided by the US Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UU., That they recommend to cover the face and to take measures of social distancing.
Since the start of the pandemic, Isabelle Revelli, director of the Little Academy of Humble, has followed CDC guidelines. Although it is not a requirement that the center continue to perform temperature checks twice a day, wear masks and disinfect more frequently, she said it is essential for the health and well-being of the children she serves.
“It is reasonable,” he said.
“We are seeing an increasing number of infected children of all ages,” said Dr. Stan Spinner, medical director and vice president of Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care. “If people are not required to wear masks indoors on a regular basis, that is when there is the greatest risk of spreading infections.”
There has never been a mask requirement for child care centers in Texas.
Beginning June 12, providers were no longer required to limit entry for staff, law enforcement, licensing officers, and children. Collection and returns outside of operations no longer needed to be completed, and providers no longer had to provide individual meals and snacks to children to reduce the risk of spreading viral infections.
“Parents should be looking at the numbers, they are going up,” said Dr. Peter Jung, pediatrician and co-founder of Blue Fish Pediatrics in association with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “We are at the point where we need to be more cautious about sending children to daycare.”
As of June 16, 242 cases of COVID-19 in 203 child care operations were reported to Texas Health and Human Services. Of those cases, 167 were adult staff members and 75 were children.
There may still be a misconception among the public that children cannot become seriously ill from COVID-19, Jung said.
“The percentage of children who have a severe case is small, and the percentage of cases that end in death is also small,” he said. “But the risk is real that they can become seriously ill.”
Multisystemic inflammatory syndrome in children, caused by a COVID-19 infection, can inflame the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs, according to the CDC. It can appear up to four weeks after the infection with COVID-19 ends.
“It is a very serious complication that we are seeing, even in Houston,” Jung said.
Spinner said the risk of sending children to daycare should be evaluated by each family. Children with chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes are at increased risk of contracting the virus. If other family members in the home have similar conditions that put them at greater risk, Spinner said, parents should also take this into account.
A now-retracted statement by the World Health Organization that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 are less likely to spread the virus has created some confusion for the general public, Spinner said.
“Asymptomatic people can transmit the virus,” he said. “Sometimes you’re still not symptomatic. It may take a few days for symptoms to start showing, and it’s still very likely to spread. “
A negative test for the virus also does not necessarily mean that the patient is not incubating the virus, the doctor added. That is why it is important to follow CDC guidelines on quarantine for 14 days if a patient is known to have come into contact with a confirmed case.
“Daycare centers ask us to screen children, but a child must still stay home during that 14-day period,” said Spinner. “Everyone should assume that they have the potential to be asymptomatic. That is why everyone needs to wear masks all the time. You should protect all the people around you, especially the young and vulnerable. “
Jung said that children over the age of 5 should wear masks in public spaces. He recommends that children 2-5 years old wear masks as well, but said it can be difficult for adults to make sure young children maintain facial coverage.
Effect on child care
The pandemic has affected the rate at which Texans use child care. There were 17,279 child care operations in the state in February, before COVID-19 was confirmed in the Lone Star state. Now with 12,172 child care operations, 29.6 percent remains closed, according to Health and Human Services.
Revelli of the Little Academy of Humble said the daycare was immediately hit by the pandemic. He said he had to fire half the staff because of the restrictions the state initially imposed on child care centers that only allowed the company to serve essential workers. Revelli said there were no aid funds or loans that applied to child care.
Parents who still take their children to daycare are taking that risk because they have no other choice, he said. Many work for the state government as first responders or healthcare workers, he said, and for many, it has been a struggle to find daycares that accept new clients.
Jung said parents should carefully examine child care centers to make sure they follow proper hygiene habits, such as good air ventilation, low environmental density, increased disinfection, and the use of masks by employees.
Even if a provider follows CDC guidelines, there is no certainty that there will be no broadcasts, Jung said.
“Those measures will reduce the risk,” he said. “But there is no guarantee that everything at stake is safe.”