Local pediatrician office pausing COVID-19 testing on asymptomatic patients

Posted at 4:58 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 17:44:51-04

WESTCHASE, Fla. — Staff at Children’s Medical Center are fielding nearly 1,000 calls a day from concerned parents about their kids being potentially exposed to COVID-19.

“We’ve never seen volumes or numbers like this,” said Dr. Lisa Cronin, a pediatrician at Children's Medical Center.

As the phone rings off the hook, doctors and nurses work around the clock to take care of kids coming in sick.

“We have so many patients that are sick that most of our slots for visits, unfortunately, are being taken up by children who need medical care immediately in that moment,” said Dr. Cronin.

It’s one reason why testing for kids who don’t have any symptoms is being put on hold for now, so pediatricians like Dr. Cronin, and Dr. Beatrice Sankey can focus on the critical need coming in.

“We want to do it but we just logistically can’t right now. When you have to decide if you’re going to see somebody with no symptoms or somebody who is sick and needs a medical problem addressed, we have to see the sick patient,” Cronin said.

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

“Getting our hands on those swabs has proved to be very very difficult,” she said.

She says that is the test parents want to get, over the “rapid” test since it’s way more reliable. But, she says parents must wait at least 5 days before testing for better accuracy.

“Timing is very important. If you do the test too soon you’re going to get a false negative result,” said Dr. Sankey.

Both doctors say results may take a bit and it’s best to just quarantine for 10 days, per the CDC guidelines.

If a child is exposed at home, they should quarantine right away and if they start experiencing symptoms, start the 10-day quarantine over the day symptoms show up. But, she says kids who are masked and in close proximity of someone with COVID don’t have to quarantine which is why she says to have your kids mask up.

“Rather than 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 with these proactive measures, numbers will begin to fall and things can get back to normal.

Kids can still get tested at places all over the Bay Area. CVS and Walgreens will test. There are County also sites open for testing.

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