COVID-19: Your Safety is Our Priority

At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we’ve put extra precautions in place for your safety. Whether you have an appointment or need to visit us for emergency care, we’re working hard to keep your family safe.

COVID-19: Resources for Patient Families

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

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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 can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath from continued coughing
  • Refusing liquids with decreased urine frequency
  • Crying without ability to be consoled
  • Fever that is not responsive to fever-reducing medications
  • Behavior that is not normal for your child

When should my child see a doctor?

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.

What do I do if my child is exposed to COVID-19?

If your child is exposed to someone who has COVID-19, he should avoid others for 14 days, or until he is cleared by his pediatrician. This means your child should stay at home unless he needs medical care. He may walk with you in secluded areas away from people or play in the backyard; however, your child should always avoid being around others who do not live in your home. If possible, also avoid anyone over the age of 60 or anyone who has a serious underlying medical condition.

In addition, monitor your child closely for a fever or cough. If either of these develops, use our COVID-19 Pediatric Assessment Tool for next steps.

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

Children's is currently testing for COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. Learn more about COVID-19 testing here.

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.

How can I protect my home from COVID-19?

Families are encouraged to plan and make decisions that will help protect members of your household during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend your family:

  • Gather up-to-date information about local COVID-19 activity from public health officials.
  • Ask neighbors what their plans include if someone gets sick.
  • Create a list of organizations you can contact in case you need access to healthcare providers, support or resources, in addition to family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, teachers and employers.
  • Consider family members who may be at a greater risk, such as adults older than age 60 and those with a serious underlying medical condition.
  • Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick family members from others.
  • Take everyday steps to prevent the virus, such as keeping surfaces disinfected, washing hands and avoiding sharing personal items.
  • Watch for symptoms in healthy family members.

*Older adults and anyone with certain serious underlying medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease or diabetes are at a higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. They should seek care as soon as symptoms start.

How do I care for someone who has COVID-19 in my home?

Caring for someone who has COVID-19 in your home can help stop the spread of the virus and protect those who are at risk for developing serious symptoms from COVID-19. We recommend:

  • Staying home and avoiding being around others as much as possible.
  • Keeping the ill person in a separate room and away from others in the household. This includes having them use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Closely monitoring the health of the person who is sick to make sure symptoms don’t worsen.
  • Preventing the spread of germs by:
    • Disinfecting surfaces every day that are often touched, such as countertops, tabletops and doorknobs.
    • Washing hands often.
    • Washing laundry thoroughly.
    • Avoiding sharing personal items like dishes, towels and bedding.
    • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Having them wear a cloth face mask when they are around others.
  • Providing symptom treatment, such as making sure the sick person stays hydrated and has access to over-the-counter medicines that may help with symptoms.

What does 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.

What is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)?

We continue to evaluate children who have exhibited inflammatory symptoms characterized as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a condition in which the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or GI organs become inflamed. Learn more about MIS-C here.

How can I support Children's during COVID-19?

We've had several people reach out and ask how they can support Children's during this unprecedented time. Our team has put together a list of seven easy ways you can help us right now, and right from your own home. Check out the list, which includes everything from our COVID-19 needs to ways you can send our patients smiles.

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.