Video #15 Transcript 04/09/2020

Good evening Hamblen County.  Today is April 9, 2020.  Please contact Kellie Smith if you have any questions or concerns for the Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force and we will address those issues in a future broadcast. 


Today’s broadcast will focus on helping parents and primary caregivers some suggestions on how they can help their families cope with the virus during these challenging times.  Cherokee Health Systems is an important part of our community and they have provided the following information to help our community.  Contact information and important websites are listed at the end of this broadcast. 


At this time, information about COVID-19 is rapidly evolving as new details are confirmed and new questions emerge. Families across the country are adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most schools, places of public gathering, and nonessential businesses are closed, and parents and other caregivers are faced with helping their families adjust to the new normal. This includes trying to keep children occupied, feeling safe, and attempting to keep up with schoolwork as best as possible. None of this easy, but it helps to stay focused on what is possible in order to reinforce a sense of control and to reassure children that they are okay, and that the situation will get better. It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events.


Acknowledging some level of concern, without panicking, is appropriate and can result in taking the necessary actions that reduce the risk of illness. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety. This is also a tremendous opportunity for adults to model for children problem-solving, flexibility, and compassion as we all work through adjusting daily schedules, balancing work and other activities, getting creative about how we spend time, processing new information from authorities, and connecting and supporting friends and family members in new ways. The following tips can help. The following information may help you think about a few important issues so you can have a plan in place to take care of your family.


1.         Identify how you will keep up with the rapidly changing information on COVID-19.  In rapidly changing health events and outbreaks such as COVID-19, there can be large amounts of incorrect or partially correct information that can add to your stress and confusion as a parent/caregiver.  Identify a few trusted sources of health information. The CDC, the TN Department of Health, and our local Coronavirus Task Force would be reliable sources of information. 


2.         At some point, you may need to talk with your entire family about how you will respond to the virus and the various modifications you must make within your home to keep everyone safe.  Don’t simply assume that every member of your family possesses the same understanding or expectations you have.  Conduct a family discussion in a comfortable place and share your thoughts and expectations.  You should encourage family members to ask questions. You may have multiple children in your home ranging from very young to teenagers which may require different conversations.  Consider having a separate discussion with young children in order to use language they can understand and to address specific fears or misconceptions they may have.


3.         It would be important to create a list of community resources that will be helpful during an outbreak. Make sure you know their emergency telephone numbers, websites, and official social media accounts. These may include: your family’s schools, doctors, public health authorities, social services, community mental health center, and crisis hotlines.  Don’t wait until you have an emergency and then have to find critical contact information.  Be prepared and have this information available. 


4.         Develop a plan for maintaining contact with friends and family members via telephone and internet in the event that further isolation or quarantine is recommended.


5.         Reinforce with your family the importance of maintaining proactive health practices such as  Regularly washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, avoid close contact with anyone, stay home when you are sick, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or with the bend/crook of the arm when coughing or sneezing. For small children, they sometimes have little concept of time and especially 20 seconds.  Have small children sign the alphabet song while washing hands and this will be just about the right amount of time. 


6.         Keep basic health supplies on hand such as soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, tissues, and a thermometer. Make sure you have a supply of all medications that you and your family take on a regular basis. You may find it beneficial to talk with your child’s medical provider about plans to get an ample supply if your child takes medication for a chronic condition.


7.         Have your family work together to gather items that might be needed during an outbreak. These include drinking water, nonperishable food, and cash.   It is important not to panic and to attempt to hoard necessities because this will only cause increase our problems but be prepared.  Be sure to include activities, books, and games for children in case a lengthy time at home is recommended. Remember to include batteries in your item list if those are needed for certain activities and games.


8.         Seek support and continued connections from friends and family by talking to them on the telephone, texting, or communicating through email or social media.  Many of our teachers are communicating with students during the school closure and it may children feel connected to their normal activities. 


9.         Although you need to stay informed, minimize exposure to media outlets or social media that might promote fear or panic. Be particularly aware of, and limit, how much media coverage or social media time your children are exposed to about the outbreak. The Internet and other social media venues may have the most sensational media coverage and may be spreading rumors or misinformation. Check in regularly with your children about what they have viewed on the Internet and clarify any misinformation.


10.       Talk with your children frequently.  Don’t force conversation on them and be careful not to overdo it.  Maintain an appropriate balance and don’t increase their fears by always talking to them about the virus.  Focus on supporting children by encouraging questions and helping them understand the current situation if they need to talk.   At times, it may be more effective to let smaller children express their feelings through drawing or other activities.  Let your children's questions guide you. Answer their questions truthfully, but don't offer unnecessary details or facts. Don't avoid giving them the information that experts indicate as crucial to your children's well-being. Often, children and youth do not talk about their concerns because they are confused or don't want to worry loved ones. Younger children absorb scary information in waves. They ask questions, listen, play, and then repeat the cycle all over again.  Be patient. 



11.       Understand that being out of school and required to stay at home may be very confusing and problematic for small children.  They don’t always understand complicated matters in full depth.  It may be important to provide more comfort to children and have a little more patience with them. 


12.       Realize that many aspects of your life will change if someone in your family contract the virus.  You will be asked to remain quarantined for a period of time and this will have a major impact on your children.  The most important thing to stress to your children is that the isolation will be temporary.   Keep your family’s schedule consistent when it comes to bedtimes, meals, and exercise. Make time to do things at home that have made you and your family feel better in other stressful situations, such as reading, watching movies, listening to music, playing games, exercising, or engaging in spiritual activities via the internet, email, or phone.


13.       Have children participate in distance learning opportunities that are offered by their schools.  This is an excellent way to continue the learning process at home and keep small children busy.  However, it is important not to frustrate you self or your child with these assignments.  Remember, moderation and balance is important.  


14.       Help your family engage in fun and meaningful activities consistent with your family and cultural values.  Include them in household jobs or activities so they feel a sense of accomplishment. Provide praise and encouragement for engaging in household jobs and good hygiene.


15.       Reassure your children that you will take them to the pediatrician and get medical care if needed if they were to ask the question.  However, explain that not every cough or sneeze means that they or others have COVID-19 and you may not go to a medical facility for every minor issue.


16.       Remember, you are a role model for your children. How you handle this stressful situation can affect how your children manage their own anxieties.


Finally, please remember the best way to take care of your children and family is to take care of yourself first.  As the announcement states on all flight, place your oxygen mask on yourself before helping a child.  You will be unable to provide the necessary care if you are not well.   Stay healthy, both physically and mentally.  Stay at home and maintain appropriate social distancing.