Chicago-based pediatrician and mom Dr. Payal Adhikari (@mommypmd) addresses more of your coronavirus (COVID-19) questions and concerns. Below she addresses questions on multiple topics, from pregnancy and deliveries to ordering takeout.

As things continue to evolve daily, Dr. Payal’s favorite websites for accurate information are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Read on to discover her helpful tips and be sure to tune into Monica + Andy’s Instagram live story every Monday and Thursday at 12on CST as Dr. Payal Adhikari will be back to answer your questions live and share her perspective on COVID-19 updates.

*Recorded via IGTV on March 27, 2020. Please note facts and recommendations are evolving daily.

Thoughts on Shelter in Place Guidelines
Please be mindful. If you need to get some fresh air, that’s fine but do it in a very safe way. Keep your distance. Don’t go to a park where there are lots of other kids, don’t go to a playground where you’re going to be touching equipment. Do support your local businesses if you can. Order in or get delivery.

Chicago-Based Hospitals Currently Testing for COVID-19
*This information is changing hourly so please call ahead before you do anything
Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, Northshore University Health and the University of Chicago. Rush has a video option for adults and pediatrics, so you can do a video conference with them and they can guide you with your symptoms and see if you qualify for testing. If so, they’ll bring you in. It’s a great option for people who have symptoms or just questions and concerns.

Visitors + a Newborn Baby
It’s really important we don’t expose the baby or any one else. The safest thing to do is just to keep visitors away for the first few weeks of life. As time develops with the coronavirus, we’ll figure out what the latest recommendations are but for now I would say definitely don’t allow visitors.

What if the visitors have been quarantined for 14 days?
I would say err on the side of caution and still plan on keeping those people away. If it’s a very important person and they’ve been quarantined for 14 days with absolutely no contact with the outside world and no symptoms, there’s a lesser chance but ideally still no contact.

Pregnancy & Illness
If you’re showing any signs of coronavirus or any other illness, you should talk to your OB about it. I do consult with one of my favorite OBs, Dr. Dayna Salasche Goldsteinin Chicago. She’s been super helpful for me and she always says if you’re pregnant and sick, tell your OB. The precautions right now for pregnant people who are either COVID-19-positive or under testing are a little bit different to keep everyone in the room safe.

If we’re delivering with an apprentice, will we be allowed a support person in the delivery room?
The latest of this morning is you will be allowed one support person in your delivery room unless you are confirmed COVID-19-positive or have symptoms and are under testing. In that case, no one will be allowed in. Every hospital is different and every hospital is changing things as time goes on, so try not to get too scared but take a look before your delivery date to understand the latest guidelines. They are always to keep you and your family safe. I know it’s a little disappointing but it’s for the best overall.

Should I have a back up birthing plan?
I think that it’s really up to you and your family. We have to take things day by day or even hour by hour at this point to see how things change until you actually deliver.

Are children being tested on therapies like plaquenil and hydroxychloroquine?
I don’t know if they are being tested on it, but the data is not there at all yet to say if these are valid therapies in children. There’s so much regulation around new drugs and drugs being used for new purposes. It is way too early for us to say whether theses drugs are helpful in coronavirus. A lot of things that you may be reading or seeing on the news are anecdotal. The scientists are saying we cannot validate this information until a lot more testing is completed.

Administering Ibuprofen versus Tylenol in children?
It’s gone back and forth. For a little while they were saying it doesn’t matter and then they were saying don’t use things like ibuprofen in kids if you’re concerned about coronavirus. There’s no solid data on it so if your kiddo has a slight fever but seems fine, it’s probably better to start with Tylenol if you don’t have to use ibuprofen.

Is it safe for kids to use hand sanitizer?
Absolutely. It’s totally safe as long as they’re being monitored. Hand sanitizer works because it has a very high alcohol content so use a tiny dime-size amount, teach them how to use it if they need to, but make sure that they don’t have access to the bottle. That said, the best thing is actually washing hands, so if you’re around your kiddos and you’re about to feed them or they come in from playing outside, make them wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. That’s the best way to kill most viruses and bacteria.

Have I seen any serious infections in infants or toddlers with COVID-19?
Thankfully no. I work in a private office so I’m not in a hospital except to see newborns and we’re not doing a lot of testing so as far as I know from my colleagues who are in the hospital, we haven’t seen anyone seriously ill. If they are admitted to the hospital, it’s a different story. I might not even know about them. The general consensus is still the same as it was before that kids are doing pretty well with COVID-19and hopefully that stays the same.

Can I cook for my family if I was exposed to COVID-19?
There’s no black or white answer but my gut says no. Even though we might not be showing symptoms, the best thing to do is always quarantine. When you’re cooking, you don’t know what viruses are going to be transmitted or how long they’re going to be staying on things so I would be a little hesitant to be cooking for other people if I knew was exposed to the virus.

I have a two-week old and I’m scared to go in for my next appointment. What are my options?
This is a great thing to talk to your pediatrician about. A lot of offices are working on other ways of communicating with their patients without having to bring them in. For our office, at the two-week visit, it’s mainly focused on a weight check and answering the parents’ questions. If you feel like your baby is fine and have no concerns about them physically, I would call your doctor’s office and see if they have any options for you like telemedicine. One thing that you could potentially do is get a scale at home and see if you could weigh the baby at home. This way you could give the doctor that piece of information to help them know that the baby is thriving. That’s one of the biggest things we look for at the two-week visit. And of course they can answer questions via telemedicine if they have that capability or just on the phone. This applies to any visit that you don’t feel comfortable coming in for, not just the two-week appointment. We really want people to come in for the visits that require vaccinations especially for babies under two years old.

Is it safer to get groceries delivered versus shopping yourself?
I would say it’s probably safer to get groceries delivered because then you’re really limiting the amount of contact you’re having with other people. If you do have to go to the store, have a list, have back-up options if something on your list is not available and wear gloves that you can discard afterward. Stay away from people as much as you can and keep at least six feet of distance.

Thoughts on food delivery?
I think it’s totally fine. I think it’s a great way to support your local businesses. A lot of services will leave the food at your front step if you ask them to do that. What we’ve been doing at our house is one person, either my husband or I, will grab the food, we’ll unpack everything, wash hands and then use the serving utensils to actually serve it so that we’re not contaminating potentially something that could have been on the outside of the bag to what’s on the inside of the bag.

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About Dr. Payal D. Adhikari, MD

Dr. Payal is a graduate of Northwestern University (BS) and Chicago Medical School (MD). She completed her pediatric residency at Rush Children’s Hospital, is board certified in Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two little ones and is a regular digital contributor to Monica + Andy and teaches the Monica + Andy Newborn 101 class to expecting + new moms in Chicago.