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, are causing concern with your patients and others in our community. Because of its novelty—and out of an abundance of caution—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended airborne and contact precautions for diagnostic testing procedures; however, each of us is equipped to manage the transmission of this disease like any other respiratory virus.

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.

Children's is managing our supplies to help make sure we are prepared to care for this and other airborne and contact diseases. We are not offering fit testing for community specialists at this time. Community specialists can purchase fit testing kits and masks for their own practices.

Children's will update this page as we receive information.

Diagnostic testing

We continue to encourage clinicians to reserve diagnostic testing for patients who are critically ill and whose care would benefit from the results of diagnostic testing. Test collection kit usage will be monitored to ensure that usage is consistent with supply. Please note that any patient with symptoms that could be consistent with a COVID-19 infection should be placed in enhanced contact droplet isolation based on their symptoms.

  • Patients who have been asymptomatic for 14 days or more who are undergoing surveillance COVID-19 testing do not need to be placed in enhanced contact droplet isolation.
  • Please refer to the guidance and specific symptom-based criteria for discontinuing a patient's enhanced contact droplet precautions.
  • Note: though physicians may remove the isolation order in Epic, only Infection Prevention can remove the Enhanced Contact Droplet designation in the patient's side bar.
  • Please contact Infection Prevention (404-785-0577) for assistance in removing the ECDP designation.

If you are caring for a child who you feel meets the need for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, call the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) at 1-866-PUB-HLTH (1-866-782-4584) and follow the prompts for testing guidance. Do not refer a patient to a Children's facility for COVID-19 testing unless instructed to do so by GDPH. Prior to sending a patient to any clinical facility, it is critical to alert the facility about the suspicion of COVID-19 so that appropriate infection prevention precautions can be taken to prevent potential exposures. In addition, provide the child and accompanying family members with a mask.

If GDPH recommends diagnostic testing, call the Children's Transfer Center at 404-785-7778 to discuss with an infection prevention team member.

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.

Reporting of COVID-19 Testing Results

  • Positive test results: to facilitate follow-up for potential exposures, the Advanced Diagnostics lab will call the campus infectious disease physician to notify them of a positive COVID-19 test result collected at the respective campus (Matt Linam, MD, for a positive test at Scottish Rite and Andi Shane, MD, for positive tests at Egleston and Hughes Spalding).
  • Negative test results will be reported directly in the patient's chart. The ordering physician—whether at Children's or a referring facility—should notify the family or clinical team/pediatrician of the test results via the Transfer Center. It is important for the ordering physician to close the loop with the patient family to prevent additional follow up calls seeking test results.

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

Employees 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 home isolate and immediately report the date of testing to Employee Health by completing the Employee Health Risk Assessment.You may not return to work until cleared to work by Employee Health.

Employee Health will provide guidance for you to return to work when:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND
  • You have experienced improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), AND
  • At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared, AND
  • You have not experienced any symptoms for 24 hours, OR
  • You received written guidance from another licensed clinician external to Children’s, you were identified as part of a Children’s patient exposure, or you are subject to local public health recommendations that supersede this guidance.

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.

Radiology and lab schedules

In an effort to keep our patients, families and staff safe during this time, Children's has adjusted many of the schedules for our lab and outpatient radiology services. The following ambulatory locations remain temporarily closed:

  • Urgent Care Centers: Children’s at Hamilton Creek and Children’s at North Point
  • Outpatient lab services: Children’s at Forsyth and Children's at Hudson Bridge

Additionally:

  • Laboratory specimen collection at Children’s at Forsyth and Children’s at Hudson Bridge are temporarily closed; however, these locations remain open for walk-in X-ray between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Laboratory specimen collection at the Center for Advanced Pediatric remains open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for patients being seen in clinics at the Center for Advanced Pediatrics. In addition, the lab has implemented a system to maximize social distancing that is limited to our most vulnerable patients. These patients may call the lab in advance and receive an appointment. Refer to the attached handout for this process. Refer to the lab guidance for more information.
  • We continue to provide imaging at the Center for Advanced Pediatrics for patients with scheduled appointments from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
  • We continue to collect lab specimens at Scottish Rite and Egleston. Learn more.
  • We continue to provide outpatient imaging services at Scottish Rite and Egleston from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. MRI is also open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Walk-in X-ray is available from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Patient and family wellness screenings continue at all radiology and lab locations.

Masking

Universal Masking at Children's

To support social distancing guidelines and the health of our patients, families and employees, Children's transitioned to mandatory universal masking for all staff April 16. During this transition, Children's will continue to provide 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).

If desired, employees may wear a cloth mask brought from home for non-patient care activities (refer to the statement on cloth masks for additional considerations for masks brought from home). For more information on Children's universal masking expectations, review the universal masking guidance.

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.

Travel guidance

Children's has reviewed travel recommendations from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) and continues to evaluate our recommendations related to meetings, particularly those that require travel. Currently, Children's is recommending suspending all nonessential international business travel and asking employees to carefully consider attendance at large meetings or conferences domestically.

Resources

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. View the Children's and Emory ongoing institutional efforts around COVID-19 research.

Webinars

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:

Medical management resources

Resources for parents and families

Additional physician resources

COVID-19 communications

Daily Update for Physicians

    Media inquiries

    Please direct all questions from journalists to our media relations team at 404-570-9717.