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'Less travel, the better' for children amid coronavirus pandemic: pediatrician

Dr. Harvey Karp, author, pediatrician & inventor of SNOO joins Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade with Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss traveling with children amid the coronavirus. Dr.Karp also weighs in on tips for expecting mothers during this time.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: There are now more than 4.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus here in the US. And it comes as the long-term effects on children are still widely unknown. Joining us now is pediatrician and inventor of the SNOO, Dr. Harvey Karp. Dr. Karp, good to see you again.

HARVEY KARP: Thank you, Alexis, you too.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So many questions-- So many questions concerning this virus and children. And I know just, you know, some of my friends looking to travel with their kids, very concerned about taking them on a plane. As a pediatrician, can you share some tips with us on how to keep ourselves and our kids safe if we're flying?

HARVEY KARP: Well, obviously, the less traveled the better. The more you're out, the more you're exposed. So if you can take a short road trip instead of an airplane trip, then that might be something to consider. If you're going in an airplane, you want to bring food along.

You want to check in early enough, check in ahead of time online, so that you don't have to wait around the airport very long. You don't want to hang out at a restaurant or a place where other people are waiting.

Of course, bring your hand sanitizer. I have people bring a little baggie filled with paper towels and dump some alcohol into that. And so when you're in the plane, you've got these little alcohol wipes that you can clean up the trays and the seat back so that you're not in contact with other-- you know, with the germs that might been left there from the person before, and of course wearing a mask, and trying to have your kids wear a mask as best you can.

I think that if you can get an early flight or flight that's off-hours, when you have more room on the flight and it's not overbooked, that's also going to be an advantage for you as well. But it's a hard thing for parents to do the logistics on all of that.

BRIAN SOZZI: Doctor, isn't the best vacation this summer the staycation?

HARVEY KARP: I think it is. I think that, you know, try to plan things. If you have enough room for a little swimming pool, even a little inflatable pool for your kids, you know, a little, you know, every other day you know you can, you know, put in colored-- food coloring in it or something that gives them a little bit of a change of pace.

I mean, you have-- it's hard on parents right now and especially of young children, because you see how much effort goes into child care providers. I mean, it is a nonstop, full-time job taking care of a two-year-old, and three-year-old, and a four-year-old.

Hey, listen, the older ones at least have online learning, and that's something that keeps them busy. But for these little uncivilized two, three, four, five, six-year-olds, it's really a challenge for parents. So adding travel on top of all of the other entertainment can be quite a challenge.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And what about those people who are expecting right now? I've talked to a number of expectant moms who are saying, I can't believe I'm going to deliver my baby into this crazy world right now. What can they do to protect themselves when they're in the hospital, when family or friends come to visit the newborn?

HARVEY KARP: You know, here in Los Angeles, we've seen a lot of parents who've gotten COVID because of well-meaning family members coming over and helping out. Again, the young parents are really stressed because that's the time when you're supposed to have help, right? You know, your family's supposed to get together, or if you don't have family, you get a babysitter or a child care provider.

And of course, everyone's frightened to do that right now. We actually-- I mean, you were very kind to mention SNOO in the beginning. We've actually seen sales of SNOO and rentals of SNOO go off the charts right now, because SNOO is a baby bed.

But it is also really a social distancing machine. It really is a way that parents can have a caregiver that helps to rock and add sleep to the baby while giving them time to take care of their toddler and get a little extra sleep or cook dinner. And so it's really a virtual caregiver that parents can bring into the home and not be worried about bringing illness into the home at the same time.

BRIAN SOZZI: Doctor, do you think-- listen, we've all been quarantined for months now On end. Do you expect some form of a baby boom looking out to early to mid-2021? How does that change how you expand your business over at SNOO?

HARVEY KARP: Well, I think that there is going to be competing forces. I think that there are more people at home, maybe getting in the romantic mood. I think that on the other hand, when you have a severe recession, people usually reduce the number of children they they're going to have because of the extra financial pressures on them. So I think that those are going to be counterbalancing.

From our point of view, we're in a very rapid growth phase. So I don't think that that affects us that much. We have so much of the population that needs this type of a product to help them get more sleep. And actually, we've dramatically expanded into hospitals. Over 65 hospitals are now using this to support the nursing staff.

We've actually just demonstrated in a survey of nine of the hospitals-- these are major university hospitals I'm talking about-- but that each SNOO is able to, like a robotic or assistant nurse, if you will, each SNOO is able to reduce the workload on a nurse by 1.7 hours. So that could be five or six hours in a 24-- and three shifts in 24 hours.

So we're seeing a lot of hospitals looking to move to efficiency, looking to move to support their nursing staff, because they're out because of illness, or the nurseries are short-staffed because volunteers can't come in and help the nurses anymore.

And when there are COVID infections, the bed is used to help keep the baby in isolation to reduce the interactions that the nurse has to have with this baby to reduce the potential of spread to the nursing staff. So actually we're in a we're in a big boom phase right now.

BRIAN SOZZI: All right, let's leave it there. Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician and the inventor of SNOO. Good to see you. Stay safe out there.

HARVEY KARP: Thank you Brian. Thanks. Take care, Alexis. Great to see you.