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

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 affect 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. COVID-19 is also called the “novel” coronavirus because this particular strain has never been seen before

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 or have no symptoms at all 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 the ability to be consoled
  • Fever that is not responsive to fever-reducing medications
  • Recent loss of taste or smell
  • Behavior that is not normal for your child

When should my child see a doctor?

Most children with COVID-19 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.

If your child is having difficulty breathing, call 911.

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 avoid being around others who do not live in your home.

In addition, monitor your child closely for symptoms of COVID-19. If any of these develop, use our Pediatric Assessment Tool for next steps.

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

Children's is performing COVID-19 testing for patients who are:

  • Undergoing certain complex surgeries or procedures in which air droplets are easily transferred.
  • Hospitalized in general care areas and 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.
  • Referred to our appointment-only, drive-thru testing siteby a community physician or subspecialty provider. This appointment-only testing site is currently available to referring providers through May 2021 and appointments require an order from a physician. Contact your child’s pediatrician for more details and refer to the what to expect guidance for more information.

Alternatively, your child may be tested outside of Children's at one of the following alternative COVID-19 testing locationsNote: Children's provides these testing sites for your convenience, not as an endorsement or recommendation. Children's has not validated the type of test performed at each site.

How is COVID-19 spread?

Like a cold or the flu, COVID-19 usually spreads from close person-to-person contact—about 6 feet—through large respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes. Smaller droplets may linger in the air for some time in confined spaces and also spread COVID-19. The virus may also spread when droplets land on surfaces that people touch.

How can I prevent COVID-19?

There is currently no available 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 the 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:

  • Cloth face coverings (masks) are proven to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and the flu.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 or the flu is are 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.
  • Limit gatherings of family members and friends not in the same household.

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.
  • Limiting contact and 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 both the ill person and anyone who is contact with them wear a face mask.
  • Providing symptomatic treatment, such as keeping the sick person hydrated and making sure they have access to over-the-counter medicines that may help with symptoms.

What is social distancing

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.

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. many people in a relatively small space.

Should I avoid travel?

For families who are thinking of traveling go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ for specific guidance from the CDC. It is best to postpone all non-essential travel.

Can my child go to school?

Individual schools or childcare facilities should work with their local public health agencies to determine the need for closures. Public health recommendations for school closures would be based on many factors, such as the amount of disease transmission in a particular community and the severity of illness.

If your child is sick, please do not send them to school.

How do I clean my home properly?

To disinfect, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.

Options include diluting your household bleach.

  • To make a bleach solution, mix: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water OR
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens pdf icon [7 pages] external icon claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).

Visit the CDC’s website for further instructions on cleaning and disinfecting.

How do I tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

It can be very difficult to tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu. The flu presents with fever and cough OR fever and sore throat. COVID-19 can have these symptoms as well. The biggest difference between COVID-19 and the flu is that with COVID-19 there is often a loss of taste and smell. The key is to focus on the severity of the symptoms to determine the need for medical 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.

What is a mRNA vaccine and is it safe?

mRNA vaccines have been developed using technology that has been around for almost 20 years. Scientists have tried to use the technology to make vaccines against a number of infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines mimic an infection in our bodies that makes them make an immune response—not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if we are exposed to the real or “wild-type” virus. mRNA vaccines do not affect or interact with our own DNA. The message from mRNA vaccines is short-lived and disappears after our immune system responds. Read more on the CDC website.

How were these vaccines developed so quickly?

The technology for mRNA vaccines has been around for almost two decades. Once the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus became known in early January 2020, scientists around the world began work on vaccine development. Unlike most other vaccines that require a bacteria or virus to be cultured (grown in the laboratory), mRNA vaccines are less difficult and time-consuming to develop.

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.