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Doctors say parents refuse COVID-19 tests for sick kids

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Posted at 10:02 AM, May 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-01 11:02:54-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System are having a problem with parents not wanting to get their sick kids tested for COVID-19.

"I think honestly it comes down to a lot of fatigue with the pandemic and understandably so," said Dr. Michael Lewis, medical director of the pediatric ICU.

Lewis said doctors are getting a lot of phone calls from parents about a child having allergy-like symptoms and needing a note to allow them back to activities they're involved in. However, when doctors recommend getting a COVID-19 test, Lewis said some parents refuse because of the inconvenience of quarantining while waiting for results.

"It also then puts the physician in a tough spot because you want to advocate for the kid, you want to advocate for the family, but we also have a role for community as well," Lewis said.

Overland Park parent Jessica Carro said allergies come around every spring for her 8-year-old daughter, Sunnye. However, when Sunnye recently lost taste and smell at school, Carro knew she couldn't assume allergies were to blame this time. She got a call from the school nurse saying Sunnye needed a COVID-19 test.

"I knew it was most likely allergies just based on knowing my kid, but she's never had allergies during a pandemic so it sat in the back of my head, 'What if it is COVID, and I send her back to school or I don't get her tested?'" Carro said.

It's the mindset Lewis is asking parents to have.

"People are wanting to get back to whatever they would consider normal, and we are still not there yet for many reasons obviously," Lewis said.

Lewis said he understands the strain quarantining puts on families, but he said it's important to keep in mind that testing is easily accessible and results are coming in much quicker than they were a year ago.

While no one wants a call from the school nurse, Carro said she hopes parents will keep pushing through for everyone's well-being.

"I just feel like as parents, I want to see my kids back in school in the fall," Carro said. "I want to eventually see their faces again and the only way to do that is to keep doing what we've been doing for the last year."

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