What Parents Should Know About Coronavirus and Children

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As the novel coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the globe, it’s understandable that many parents are increasingly on edge. If you’re a parent, should you be worried? Here’s what you need to know.

Does COVID-19 Effect Kids More Than Others?

There’s no evidence that children are more susceptible than other groups of people. In fact, most confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease reported from China have occurred in adults. Infections in children have been reported, including in very young children. From limited information published from past Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreaks, infection among children was relatively uncommon.

How Does COVID-19 Differ in Kids Vs. Adults?

Limited reports of children with the novel coronavirus in China have described cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose and cough. Gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea have been reported in at least one child with the virus. These limited reports suggest that children with confirmed coronavirus infections have generally presented with mild symptoms, and though severe complications like acute respiratory distress syndrome and septic shock have been reported, they appear to be uncommon.

Are Treatments Available for Kids with Coronavirus?

There are currently no antiviral drugs recommended or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19. Clinical management includes prompt implementation of recommended infection prevention and control measures in health care settings and supportive management of complications.

How to Clean and Disinfect to Keep Kids Safe from Coronavirus


If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 60% alcohol and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. 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.

Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against coronavirus 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.).

For soft, porous surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:

  • If the items can be laundered, launder items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and then dry items completely
  • Otherwise, use products with the EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims that are suitable for porous surfaces

Linens, Clothing, and Other Items That Go in the Laundry

To minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry. Wash items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry them completely. It’s ok to wash dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person with other people’s items. Clean and disinfect hampers or other carts for transporting laundry according to the guidance above for hard or soft surfaces.

Use Proper Hand Hygiene to Fight Coronavirus

Follow normal preventive actions while at work and home, including cleaning hands and avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Additional key times to clean hands include:

  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After contact with animals or pets
  • After using the bathroom
  • Before and after providing routine care for your child
  • Before eating or preparing food

Next Steps

If you or your child have severe respiratory distress with symptoms that include a fever, cough, shortness of breath etc., we recommend calling your primary care physician, closest urgent care or making a telemedicine appointment immediately.

For more information on the latest coronavirus updates, FAQs and more, visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub.

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