‘Watch what you do, just as much as what you say,’ Levine tells parents housebound with kids during COVID-19

    Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and State Epidemiologist Dr. Sharon Watkins. (Photo courtesy DOH)

    With all of Pennsylvania under a stay at home order, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine had some advice Thursday for parents who are housebound with their children.

    Levine, who began her medical career as a pediatrician, focused her talking points on children and teens who may also be feeling the stress of COVID-19. 

    “Children take their leads from the adults in their lives,” Levine said during an online news briefing, as she urged adults to keep a routine for children and teens to help the prolonged isolation become normal. 

    “Watch what you do, just as much as what you say,” Levine said, pointing out that children pick up on the stress their parents feel over the pandemic.

    Limiting exposure to news coverage and social media could lessen the stress among children, Levine said. 

    Her comments came as the number of COVID-19 cases statewide continued to rise.

    On Thursday, health officials confirmed 1,211 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon, bringing the statewide total of 7,016 cases and 90 deaths in 62 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Levine said that  345 of the 1,211 new cases are in healthcare workers.

    The accuracy of testing has, so far, been very good across the state, Levine said. but acknowledged the number of positive cases would far exceed the number of those who test positive because of the rapid rate of community spread.

    “We have seen widespread community transmission of COVID-19,” Levine said. 

    When asked by reporters about the 1918 Flu pandemic and how it compares to the current pandemic with COVID-19, Levine said that while medicine was different 100 years ago, the need to take preventative measures such as social distancing are very much the same

    Levine cited the cancellation of World War I parades in cities such as one in St. Louis at the time, which prevented the number of people exposed from climbing. In Philadelphia, the parade went on, and by the end of the week, nearly 4,500 people were dead, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

    “It highlights the critical nature of the stay-at-home order that [Gov. Tom Wolf] ordered,” Levine said. 

    Under the terms of that order, imposed Wednesday, Pennsylvanians cannot leave their homes except to travel to essential jobs, go to the grocery store, seek medical care or exercise outside, according to official guidelines published by the Wolf administration.

    Cassie Miller
    A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.