What to know about COVID-19

As public health agencies closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it is important to be informed and stay updated.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta recognizes that the unknowns of SARS-CoV2, the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 disease, have caused concern with your patients and others in our community. In the event that a child presents with a known or suspected COVID-19 infection, Children's is prepared to support the diagnosis and management of children according to CDC guidelines.

For COVID-19 resources for patients and families, visit our COVID-19 pages for information and updates and testing.

Diagnostic testing

Most children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, such as fever and cough, and do not require medical care or testing. Children’s will reserve specimen collection at our Emergency Departments, Urgent Care Centers and ambulatory clinics for diagnostic testing of children whose disease management will be impacted by results or for whom our public health partners deem testing is needed. If you are providing care for a child who has fever or cough or shortness of breath and requires Urgent Care Center or Emergency Department evaluation, call the Children's Transfer Center at 404-785-7778 to notify them of the planned referral to Children's for clinical care. Be sure to describe the concern for COVID-19 infection.

Children's is currently testing for COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. Patients may be tested in the following situations:

  • Patients who undergo certain complex surgeries or procedures where air droplets are easily transferred. If pre-surgery COVID-19 testing is needed, a scheduler will notify the family that pre-surgical testing is required. Read more.
  • Hospitalized patients in general care areas who meet certain enhanced care criteria because their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19. Children's may determine that a patient needs to be tested based on symptoms and temperature recorded during a wellness screening.
  • Patients who are referred to our appointment-only mobile collection site by a community physician or subspecialty provider. This pilot appointment-only collection site is currently available to referring providers through September and appointments require an order from a physician. Read more about what patients can expect.

As our capacity to test changes, laboratory testing can be an important step in understanding and containing COVID-19 and protecting vulnerable populations. Patients may be tested outside of Children's at one of the following alternative COVID-19 testing locations. Note: Children's provides these testing sites as a recommendation, not an endorsement. We have not yet validated the type of test performed at each site.

COVID-19 Testing for Employees and Return-to-Work Guidance

Staff who have symptoms of a COVID-19 infection are eligible for COVID-19 testing with a referral from a healthcare provider or the local public health department. Contact your local health department for more information on testing options. If you are not experiencing symptoms, you may still be eligible for testing—in order to collect data for the local health department—if you were potentially exposed to COVID-19.

Any employee—with or without symptoms—who chooses to be tested must report the date of testing to Employee Health by completing the Employee Health Risk Assessment. Staff who choose to be tested for COVID-19 must report pending and final results to Employee Health.

Employee Health will provide guidance for you to return to work based on the following guidelines:

  • You have not experienced a fever or any symptoms for 24 hours without medication
  • If tested, at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared OR since test date (if asymptomatic)

Contact Employee Health at 404-785-2184 (ext. 52184) between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., or 404-785-7777 (ext. 57777) between 4 p.m. and 7 a.m., with questions.


Universal Masking at Children's

To support social distancing guidelines and the health of our patients, families and employees, Children's requires all patients, staff, visitors and vendors (over the age of two) to wear masks while in a Children’s facility. Children's provides employees with the type of mask that is indicated by their work area or the type of care they provide (i.e., N95 mask, procedure mask or cloth mask).

Due to lack of sufficient protection, Children's no longer allows employees, physicians or visitors to wear masks with exhalation valves (cloth or N95) unless covered with a procedure mask. Children's screeners will give a procedure mask to anyone wearing a mask with a valve. These individuals should wear the procedure mask in place of or over the mask with a valve throughout their visit to our facilities.

N95 Masks

Isolation precautions

In addition to standard precautions, based on the transmission of COVID-19, contact + droplet + standard isolation precautions (procedure mask, gown, gloves and eye protection) may be used for care of patients with any respiratory illness, including suspected COVID-19 infections in emergency departments, urgent care centers and ambulatory sites. If an aerosol-generating procedure (collection of a respiratory specimen or intubation) is indicated, clinicians should ideally replace their procedure masks with fitted N-95 respirators, if available, and the procedure should be performed in a negative-pressure airborne infection isolation room (AIIR), when feasible. The CDC has provided recommendations for infection prevention and control.

Wellness Screening and Travel guidance

Wellness Screening

Children's now requires employees, volunteers, students and contractors entering the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, Egleston, Hughes Spalding, Scottish Rite and the Support Center to follow a revised wellness screening process. Staff should access the Express Symptom Screening Tool from a mobile device prior to arriving at a Children's facility; enter their employee, volunteer, student or Epic ID; and answer our standard screening questions. If a user passes the questionnaire in the Express Symptom Screening Tool, they can proceed to the temperature screening station. Where available, employees and staff should use the new, automated kiosks for temperature screening.

View the Express Symptom Screening Tool tip sheet for step-by-step instructions and guidance on saving the link to a personal mobile device.

Travel Guidance

Based on a reassessment of local COVID-19 epidemiology, policies of partner healthcare systems and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State, Children's is updating our travel policy to eliminate the need for quarantine following return from any travel. Employee Health guidance now states that if you travel domestically or internationally for any reason, you may return to work at Children's as long as you are asymptomatic, screen negative prior to entry and follow our infection prevention guidelines (i.e. masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing).

If you receive specific guidance from a public health agency requiring a quarantine, follow the individual public health guidance. If you develop symptoms of any illness, you must home isolate, notify your manager and complete the Employee Health Risk Assessment.

As a reminder, employees should avoid non-essential travel when possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Those considering travel should refer to updated country-specific travel advisories.

Visit the COVID-19 Hub Employee Health page on Careforce Connection for more information on this guidance and guidance following COVID-19 testing. Contact Employee Health at 404-785-2184 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., or 404-785-7777 between 4 p.m. and 7 a.m., with questions.


Researchers Mobilize to Fight COVID-19 Virus

In support of colleagues and friends on the front lines, researchers at Children's and the Emory University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics are working together to fight COVID-19 from the lab. These research projects, most without extramural funding, are contributing to the body of knowledge around the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Read more about the Children's and Emory COVID-19 research efforts.


Children’s hosted COVID-19 webinars with key Children's experts to clarify current messaging and address questions from community physicians. The panelists included:

  • Dan Salinas, MD
    Chief Medical Officer
  • Jim Fortenberry, MD
    Chief Physician Officer
  • Renee Watson, MSN, RNC, CIC, CPHQ, CPPS
    Senior Director-Quality and Patient Safety
    Infection Prevention and Control Officer
  • Andi Shane, MD, MPH, MS
    System Medical Director, Infectious Disease
  • Matt Linam, MD
    Infectious Disease Physician
  • Robert Jerris, PhD
    Clinical Microbiology Director

Webinar Recordings:

Additional physician resources