Don’t rush to the doctor’s office. Here’s what to do if you suspect your child has COVID-19.
With breaking news of three confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Texas, many parents may be wondering what to do if they suspect their child has contracted the new strain of coronavirus. The most important thing to remember is not to panic.
Based on confirmed cases of COVID-19 from around the world, children have been relatively protected from serious illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are less likely to get COVID-19 than adults. And more positive news is, if they do get it, it's usually a mild case. In fact, in a study of more than 72,000 patients by the CDC in China, only about 400 cases occurred in children under age 9 with zero deaths.
That being said, infectious disease experts at Cook Children’s expect to see COVID-19 cases in children in the coming weeks and months.
Here’s what parents need to know:
- Children who test positive for COVID-19 will likely experience fever, cough and not feel well.
- Adults who are infected with COVID-19 are more likely to be very ill and could even require hospitalization.
- There are no treatments available for COVID-19.
- Regardless of what’s causing the cough and fever, it is important that sick children stay home and avoid spreading illness to others.
- If a parent in Tarrant County suspects their child has COVID-19, they should first call Tarrant County’s Coronavirus Hotline at 817-248-6299. (If you live in Denton County, call 940-349-2900. Collin and Dallas Counties do not currently have COVID-19 hotlines for the public.)
“If you are worried that your child is ill and needs medical attention, we recommend that you call your physician. If you have concerns that your child needs to be tested for COVID-19, then call the health department,” said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s. “We’re asking parents not to rush their child to the hospital or doctor's offices for mild cold symptoms because if they have COVID-19 they could potentially expose other children with lung disease or even cancer who happen to be in those waiting rooms. In addition, they could expose healthcare workers who are at risk for severe disease.”
If a patient arrives to Cook Children’s Emergency Department with a suspected COVID-19 infection, they will be asked a series of screening questions. If the answers are concerning for COVID-19 exposure, the child and caregivers will immediately be isolated in a negative-pressure room, which allows air to flow in, but not out. This ensures airborne viruses are confined to the patient’s room. Emergency room staff will activate the established infection prevention protocol to protect staff and other patients and families from exposure. All COVID-19 testing will be directed to the Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH). Cook Children’s cannot order COVID-19 testing without TCPH approval.
“Currently, Cook Children’s does not have the ability to test for COVID-19. We are able to send samples to the health department, but they will ultimately decide which samples are tested.”
Cook Children’s is working closely with TCPH regarding the evolving COVID-19 situation. We encourage anyone with questions or concerns about COVID-19 to call the local Coronavirus Hotline at 817-248-6299. If a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed in Tarrant County, TCPH will provide communication to the public and the media.
To learn more about what Cook Children’s is doing to prepare for COVID-19, read our latest press release.
- What Parents Need to Know About the Coronavirus
- Tarrant County Public Health's COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Page
- Texas Department of State Health Services' Coronavirus Page
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Children
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Coronavirus Disease Page
- How COVID-19 Spreads (CDC)
- Symptoms (CDC)
- Prevention & Treatment (CDC)
- What to Do If You Are Sick With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CDC)
- World Health Organization's Coronavirus Page
- EPA's Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19