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A Christian Pediatrician's Perspective on Coronavirus

Posted by Dr. Andrea Wadley on Mar 27, 2020 8:43:27 AM

a christian pediatrician's perspective on coronavirusAs Esther stood in the palace, she received word that her cousin Mordecai was outside the palace gate in sackcloth and ash. As her concern mounted for her cousin’s well-being, she sent a messenger to find out the source of his anguish. The news was not good. At a specific date and time, the Jews were to be annihilated. As her cousin’s words fell on her and swirled through her mind, her panic began to set in.  Would she die because of this edict? Would she be safe in the castle walls because no one knew that she was a Jew? Or should she try to save her people by risking her own life and petitioning her kingly husband?

When we face the unknown, we often fall back into our human responses of fear, anxiety, and panic. Just as many of you, I felt those familiar emotions on March 13, 2020. This was the day our cities started shutting down due to evidence that SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) had begun spreading in our community.

This virus, SARS-CoV-2, is from a family of viruses called Coronavirus. This family of viruses infects animals and humans. There are seven total known Coronaviruses that infect humans. Four types cause the common cold, and the other three types (SARS, MERS, and now SARS-CoV-2) cause much more serious respiratory illness in certain people. 

SARS-CoV-2 is a novel virus. Novel means that it is an entirely new virus that our immune systems do not have experience with handling. This is what makes it particularly dangerous. The hypothesis right now is the virus started as a bat virus that changed just enough to infect a different animal and then in turn, infected a human being. It gained the ability to spread between human beings and rapidly started spreading within the densely populated city of Wuhan, China. Since we live in a global community, it traveled within its human vectors and infected people in many different countries across the world.

As you likely already know, this specific Coronavirus causes a clinical illness called COVID-19. This sickness results in a highly variable range of symptoms. The spectrum of illness ranges from no symptoms at all up to severe illness that requires intensive care and mechanical ventilation.  The main symptoms in adults are fever, fatigue, cough, and difficulty breathing. GI symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are also recognized as symptoms in patients who have tested positive. Children, for the most part, have experienced mild symptoms of fever, cough, fatigue/fussiness, and diarrhea.

The virus is spread through respiratory droplets (expelled from an infected person’s cough or sneeze) and lives on surfaces for hours to days. There is also evidence that it is spread through the fecal-oral route (not washing hands well after using the bathroom/changing diapers,etc., and then touching your mouth/face).

Evidence is rapidly emerging that asymptomatic (no symptoms) carriers of this virus are most likely driving this pandemic. Children may be these carriers. There is not enough testing capability to test everyone who may or may not have symptoms. However, we do have good evidence that social distancing will help decrease the rapid spread of the infection. While most people who are sickened with COVID-19 will recover without any problems, many will not. Social distancing will slow down the spread long enough to ensure our hospitals have enough manpower and supplies to deal with a potential surge of sick patients. A CCA parent, Dr. Stephen Kindrick, wrote an excellent article about social distancing that you can read here.

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Like Esther, we are faced with a threat to our loved ones. As Esther contemplated her choices, she took her cousin’s words to heart and put them into action.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

As Christians, we are called to a royal position in Christ for such a time as this. And while these times feel overwhelming and troublesome, take heart, Christ has overcome the world. So let’s be the salt of the earth and the light on the hill by putting our faith into action, just as Esther did.

Pray without ceasing.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Obey our leaders.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1

Love your neighbor.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

While this season may seem difficult and unending at times, my prayer for us is that we can look back and know we did everything we could to be the hands and feet of Christ. In our limited human understanding, the unknown can be a scary place to find ourselves, but nothing surprises God. He already knows the ending to the story, and He has invited us along to do His work here on earth for His name’s sake.

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Topics: Health