From A Pediatric Urgent Care Doctor: Take Your COVID-19 Cues From The Kids, Please

by Dr. Christina Johns

I got invited to a birthday party. An adult one.

I couldn’t believe it. A gathering? Of a group? My surprise stemmed from the fact that it came from a person who’s “all in” with the science of preventing COVID-19. And yet there it was: an invitation to an inside, multiple family, several hour birthday party. Wow.

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I’m sure I’m not alone and we are all getting these kinds of invites. Now that COVID-19 infection rates are trending down; more people are getting vaccinated, and venues like movie theaters and sports arenas are reopening, people are starting to feel confident and bold. Maybe even letting their guard down.

We just can’t. Not yet.

My fitness instructor has always said near the end of each virtual class: “You didn’t come this far just to come this far!” Truer words have never been spoken.


If the holiday season showed us anything, it’s that COVID-19 loves a gathering of even a small number of people who don’t live in the same house together, bonus if you’re drinking and eating and laughing at that party. In January, the CDC reported positive weekly cases spiked to more than 300,000, a record high. It showed that when people get together in a group, they get sick.

The truth is, we know what we need to do.

When many of our kids went back to school in September, we collectively insisted they wear masks, stay six feet apart in the classroom and lunchroom, wash hands, travel up and down one-way stairwells, and more. So why are adults not playing by the same rules?

For months now we have had a front-row seat to watching our kids show us how to deal with this pandemic. They march into schools confidently; they participate in class remotely; they bear the burden of new rules simply because they’ve been told it’s the right thing to do and that it will protect their families and friends.

Let’s reverse roles and look to them as our models of best practice.

I know it’s a drag. As a mom, a daughter, and a friend, I’m frustrated with not being able to do all the things I’d like to do, too. I want it to be like it used to be. But I also want to see fewer kids in my practice needing COVID-19 tests, and no kids in pediatric intensive care units with the post-COVID-19 inflammatory syndrome MIS-C.

We should be taking our COVID-19 cues from our kids and skipping the party. I RSVP’d “No, thank you.”