RICHMOND, Va. -- While many Americans have moved on from the pandemic, parents who have small children in daycare are still living like it's 2020 with classrooms shutting down for up to 10 days because of COVID cases.
Yet, State Health Commissioner Dr. Colin Green said a recent uptick in cases means "this probably isn't the time to look at eliminating quarantine."
That is disappointing news for Francesca Purcell who juggles three young daughters while running her own business.
"I have never been so stressed," Purcell said.
More than two years since the start of the pandemic, she is burned out trying to find childcare during daycare closures.
Earlier this week, Purcell learned her 1-year-old's daycare class would close for ten days due to three COVID cases among staff and students within ten days.
She said this is the fifth time one of her kids has been quarantined for possible exposure to the virus.
"Working parents of young children are the forgotten aspect of this experience. There is not a lot of support for people who have these young babies," Purcell said.
She wonders if a ten day quarantine for possible exposure to COVID is still the right approach.
After all, her daycare does not close for cases of the flu or RSV, which can cause severe illness in babies.
"When is this going to end? It feel like a moving target," Purcell said.
The Virginia Department of Health recommends ten days for children under the age of two because they cannot wear a mask, and they are unvaccinated.
For children between the ages of two and five in daycare, VDH recommends a five-day quarantine because they can wear a mask at school for five additional days.
Yet, COVID cases in children these days are generally mild.
Data from VDH shows zero children between the ages of zero and nine have died from COVID in the past 13 weeks statewide, and just one out of every 100,000 kids in that age range have been hospitalized with COVID in the past 13 weeks.
"That class of kids and the parents who care for them are not being considered," Purcell said.
But, Dr. Green said the quarantine recommendations exist for the greater good.
"The main reason we ask young children to quarantine is not for them, but rather the people they might expose who are potentially more vulnerable," Green said.
He also added that COVID can still cause severe disease in small children.
"It's not unheard of, over the last six months there have been three children under the age of 10 who have died from COVID-19," Green said.
He is asking parents with small children to remain patient for a day when COVID becomes endemic.
"We are still seeing outbreaks, and we are still seeing an increase in the number of cases, so this probably isn't the time to look at eliminating quarantine," Green said. "But once this increase in cases drops off, which we expect it to do, then we can talk about that sort of thing."
Virginians age 5+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Go to Vaccine Finderto search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).