COVID-19: What You Need to Know

COVID-19 resources for patients and families

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta COVID-19 Hotline

We are here to answer your questions. Call our hotline at 404-785-7955 to speak with one of our experts. 

COVID-19 Pediatric Assessment Tool

This tool is meant to help parents answer two questions:

  1. What should I do if my child has a fever and/or a cough?
  2. What should I do if my child has been around someone with COVID-19, but my child has no symptoms?

Go to the Pediatric Assessment Tool

Our facility is under visitor restriction

Out of an abundance of caution, only one visitor (must be a family member) is allowed to visit per patient. If a family member or visitor is sick, we ask that they not visit their loved one in the hospital. Ill visitors will not be allowed in our facilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic, explained

By now you have probably seen the news about a novel coronavirus that began in China and has spread to several other countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the situation and providing frequent updates. Below are some common questions about the illness, including symptoms to watch for and how to prevent it.

The situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is new territory for all of us, and there's a lot of information out there to read. But, it's especially important during this time to keep communication between you and your kids open so that they don't feel left out. Learn more about how to talk to your child about COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that commonly affect animals but sometimes infect humans too. They usually attack the upper respiratory tract—nose, sinuses and throat. A coronavirus gets its name from the crown-like spikes on its surface, visible under a microscope (“corona” means crown in Latin). Some types of coronavirus cause mild symptoms like the common cold, while others, like SARS or MERS, are more dangerous.

Scientists are still learning about this new coronavirus that causes a disease known as COVID-19. Called “novel” because it's never been seen before, it is thought to have originated at an animal market in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Reported symptoms of COVID-19 have ranged from very mild to severe and even fatal. Most COVID-19 infections in healthy children are mild and do not require hospital care.

Signs of COVID-19 infection can include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever 
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills

When should my child see a doctor?

If your child has a fever or cough, use our COVID-19 Pediatric Assessment Tool. 

Most children with COVID-19 infections have mild symptoms and do not require hospital care. If your child has concerning symptoms, call your doctor or pediatrician to discuss next steps before going to a hospital, Emergency Department or urgent care. We need to direct your arrival into our facility to avoid exposures.

If your child is in respiratory distress, call 911 or bring them to the closest emergency room.

Other signs that your child needs medical care can include:

  • Fast breathing even when there is no fever present
  • Continued coughing with in-pulling of chest
  • Inconsolable crying 
  • A change in behavior that is concerning
  • Decreased drinking of fluids with reduced urine output
  • No tears when crying

Can I bring my child to Children's to get tested?

Children's is not a testing center for COVID-19. However, patients who are hospitalized at Children's may be considered for COVID-19 infection testing.

How is COVID-19 spread?

Like the cold or flu, COVID-19 usually spreads from close person-to-person contact—about six feet—through respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes. The virus may also spread when droplets land on surfaces that people touch.

How can I prevent COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to avoid infection is to avoid exposure. It is always a good idea to keep your guard up—and not just against this virus. “While the novel coronavirus is concerning, it is important to remember that seasonal flu is responsible for millions of infections and thousands of deaths in adults and children each year. The flu can be prevented by getting a vaccine each year, and remember, it's never too late to get a flu shot,” says Andrea Shane, MD, MPH, System Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Here are other simple steps you can take to lower your risk of catching or spreading illness.

  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching tissues. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables and handrails, to help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick, unless you or your child needs medical care.
  • Limit attendance at large public gatherings and events.

What is social distancing or physical distancing mean?

Social distancing is a practice to help stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease like COVID-19. It is a way to deliberately increase the physical space between people to help avoid spreading illness, as staying at least 6 feet away from others can help lessen your chance of catching the virus.

According to the CDC, and in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, they recommend that for the next eight weeks, organizers-- whether groups or individuals-- cancel or postpone in-person events, such as sports events, large work meetings, religious gatherings, cruises or festivals, that consist of 50 or more people across the United States.

Other examples of social distancing may include:

  • Working from home instead of the office.
  • Closing schools and/or switching to online classes.
  • Connecting with others digitally rather than in person.
  • Avoiding eating out or going to stores where there may be large crowds.

The term social distancing is critical for us in helping take on COVID-19 as a disease that’s impacting our community. The newer term we want to think about is physical distancing. We want to encourage socializing with your child through FaceTime or the computer with friends or family so that you maintain those connections, but what it is key is avoiding direct contact with large groups of family or friends. We are encouraging staying away from community playgrounds and focusing on playing together in your backyard.

Should I avoid travel?

For those who plan to travel, the CDC offers specific guidance about avoiding COVID-19. It is best to postpone nonessential travel, particularly to countries where access to medical care may be limited or is prohibited by the CDC. For immediate household contacts, consider postponing nonessential travel to high-risk areas and discuss this with their healthcare provider.

As public health agencies closely monitor the outbreak, know that Children’s is ready to support the diagnosis and management of children in the event a child presents with a known or suspected COVID-19 infection.

Children's has the appropriate personal protective equipment, plans for location management and a team of staff trained to care for children who may have infections with special pathogens—such as suspected COVID-19 infections—should they require clinical care.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children's Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.