Is my child at risk for coronavirus (COVID-19)?

If your child has trouble breathing, has blue lips, is not acting normally or looks very tired (lethargic), or anything that makes you very worried, bring them to the emergency room right away, or call 911.

The following is based on Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines as of March 19, 2020.

Is my child at risk for having coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Good news for children. Most children over 1 year of age seem to have mild cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19). So if your child has a fever, cough, runny nose or diarrhea it will be hard to tell if your child does or does not have coronavirus (COVID-19). The bad news is that older people seem to do worse with this virus. Even though it may be difficult, having children spend less time with grandparents may help the older people in your family stay healthier. If grandparents or adults over 60 years old are the primary caretakers of your child, try your best to keep them safe: wash hands constantly, limit your child’s contact with people outside the home, and when they do leave the home try to avoid children touching things and then touching their faces. 

The best way to know if your child needs to get tested for coronavirus is if your child has been with someone who has the coronavirus (someone who took a test and it was positive), or if your child has been to one of the areas where coronavirus has spread widely. The CDC is updating the list of higher-risk “Level 3” areas here. At this time, even if your child has a fever, cough, runny nose or diarrhea — but has not spent time with someone who tested positive, and has not traveled in the last 14 days to one of the higher-risk “Level 3” areas, they are considered to be at low risk to have it.

You can look for your local health department here for more information, including how many cases of coronavirus have occurred in your local area, and where to seek care if you are at medium or high risk for coronavirus. Most regular doctors offices are not able to test for coronavirus at this time, so it is important to check your local health department website first to find out where to go.

Should I see anyone about my child’s illness?

Children often have mild colds and coughs that you can safely treat them at home. To limit the chance that your child gets the coronavirus, we recommend you call your doctor first before going to the clinic. If you don’t have a doctor, call your local clinic, urgent care center, or emergency room before you go as they may be able to help you over the phone instead of an in-person visit.

Use the chart below to help determine your child’s risk level for having coronavirus (COVID-19). This may help you decide whether to seek out testing.

Remember, if your child has trouble breathing, has blue lips, is not acting normally or looks very tired (lethargic), or anything that makes you very worried, bring them to the emergency room right away, or call 911.

Is my child at risk for having coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The CDC has guidelines that help us determine whether a child is at “low risk” – meaning they probably do not need to be tested for coronavirus at this time – or “medium / high risk” meaning you should contact your local health department. These guidelines can be a little hard to understand, so we made a simple chart below to help walk through them. This chart is current as of March 17, 2020.

If your child is at very low risk according to the chart above (and they do not show the other concerning symptoms below), take care of them at home and make sure they drink plenty of fluids (water and some juice), and get rest.

If your child is at medium or high risk, contact your local health department to help determine whether your child should be tested, and to find out where you can get tested. Remember that not all doctors offices or hospitals are able to test for coronavirus at this time, so call your doctor office, clinic or hospital before going there.

If your child has trouble breathing, has blue lips, is not acting normally or looks very tired (lethargic), or anything that makes you very worried, bring them to the emergency room right away, or call 911.

*For the chart above being “in contact” with someone means:

Being within about 6 feet of a person who has coronavirus (tested positive) for a prolonged period of time, according to CDC guidelines. Contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting room with a person who has coronavirus; or, having direct contact with infectious secretions of a person with coronavirus case (example: being coughed or sneezed on)