Ask Dr. Nandi: Keeping teens safe during the coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 5:45 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 17:45:11-04

(WXYZ) — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise among teenagers, many are left wondering what can be done to slow down the spread.

While many teenagers are often asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, there are still cases where teens get very sick, and some have, unfortunately, even died.

Now, most kids are generally healthy, but not everyone is. Here in the US, we have an obesity epidemic in our youth population. There are also teens that have hypertension, asthma, or kidney disease. And we know that these underlying medical conditions can increase the risk for severe illness from COVID-19, even if you’re young.

it is a problem when teens don’t think COVID precautions are important. This sort of thinking places families at risk. Because when teens get infected, they can pass it to older, more vulnerable family members.

But I have to say that part of their adolescent thinking can be blamed on a teenager’s brain, which takes time to physically mature and fully develop. So for many kids, the ability to fully comprehend consequences often doesn’t develop until a teen is older.

As a parent with a teenager in the house, I know how important it is for them to see their friends. But my wife and I are very careful and avoid social events with other teens. Not only because it’s very difficult for teenagers to follow guidelines, but also because I have close family members that are high-risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19.

Now, I know what works for my family might not work for yours. So, here are a few ways to help keep teens safe:

  • Make sure that teenagers understand how the virus can be spread by people who have no symptoms. So just because their friends look and feel healthy, doesn’t mean that they are not infected.
  • Also, I personally recommend online conversations with friends. They can use Zoom or FaceTime which are free programs and allows multiple people on one video call.
  • Now, if they really need to see friends in person, try to limit to one or two friends at a time. And stress the importance of staying 6 feet apart.
  • Also, have your teen wear a mask. And explain how science tells us that masks can help prevent people from transmitting or picking up the coronavirus.
  • And lastly, good hygiene helps so hands need to get washed often, and any coughs or sneezes need to be covered, even if you’re six feet apart.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.