Mighty Blog

Coronavirus: What parents need to know

Last update: 3/26/2020. This is an ongoing story and will be updated with the latest information.

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is an illness that looks similar to common respiratory diseases like the common cold, influenza or pneumonia. It has spread throughout the world, including right here in Minnesota. This is an ever-changing situation, but Children’s Minnesota is prepared to care for any children who are diagnosed.

Patsy Stinchfield, CPNP, and senior director of infection prevention at Children’s Minnesota stated, “We have been preparing for COVID-19 for months and have a robust plan in place to care for any children who need us.”

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a respiratory illness with symptoms like a fever, a cough, shortness of breath or chest pain.

Experts believe it spreads from person to person, or any kind of close contact. It can also spread through surfaces, especially if a person touches something with the virus on it then touches their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands.

What do parents need to know about coronavirus?

Can kids get COVID-19?

Yes, there are some reported cases of coronavirus in children around the world. It does appear that they experience milder symptoms than adults do. Their symptoms are more like the common cold. In a small study of young children with COVID-19, none of them were in the intensive care unit or required a ventilator for breathing support.

Is a child with an underlying condition more at risk?

There are some reported cases of coronavirus in children around the world, however it does appear that they experience milder symptoms than adults do. Their symptoms are more like the common cold.

In adults, those with underlying medical conditions, including asthma and diabetes, appear to be at higher risk for severe disease. It is too soon to know whether the same is true for children, and the teams at Children’s Minnesota will continue to watch the scientific literature closely on these questions.

Little boy coughing into a tissue

How can I talk to my child about coronavirus?

Children’s Minnesota child life specialists are experts trained in helping kids understand complex medical issues. They have provided parents and caregivers tips on how to talk with kids about COVID-19. From helping your child understand new terms they may be hearing to things to consider while parenting during a time of high stress, our experts are here to help your family through this difficult time.

Read more: How to talk with kids about COVID-19

What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If you think you have coronavirus, or COVID-19, we urge you to stay at home. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of the illness to other people. Do not go to your health care provider’s office or an emergency department if you think you have been infected with coronavirus or if you have the symptoms of COVID-19.

Instead, please call your health care provider and ask them how to move forward. Your provider will then help you with next steps and will direct you to the right health facility and to determine the need for testing.

If you have any questions, please call the Minnesota Department of Health hotline at 651-201-3920.

What is Children’s Minnesota doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

We are taking precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, including changing the visiting standards at our hospitals. Only two parents, or two designated adults, may visit a patient at a time. No other visitors will be permitted, including siblings. Compassionate exceptions may be possible and must be arranged with the patient care manager of the unit.

Will Children’s Minnesota isolate a child diagnosed with COVID-19 away from parents?

Children’s Minnesota is committed to family-centered care. Two parents or their designee are welcome at a child’s bedside 24-7, and are not restricted to visiting hours. Visiting adults may be requested to wear personal protective equipment, for example: Gown, gloves, mask. We will not routinely separate adults from a child, and any decision to do so would be made in careful collaboration, based on the unique circumstances of the family and child’s care needs.

How can families prevent the spread of illnesses?

You can follow simple steps to prevent the spread of illnesses in your home:

  •  Wash your hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, or before making food.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Social distancing is important. Try and stand 6 feet away from others, do not shake hands and avoid crowds.
  • The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends cancelling or postponing gatherings and events. More details can be found here.
  • Use tissues to cover your mouth when you cough. Immediately throw the tissues in the garbage, do not let them lay around or pile up.
  • Clean surfaces in your home with usual household cleaners and disinfectants.
  • Stay home from work or school when you are sick.

How do I work from home and parent my child at the same time?

Working from home is an important part of slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and “flattening the curve” in our community. But it’s important to continue the important work we do in our careers, but also keep kids occupied and safe while they are home from school. A few tips for parents working remotely while also watching children:

  • Have a set routine for yourself and your family.
  • Create a productive work space for yourself to use during working hours.
  • Practice self-care.

Read more: Tips for working remotely while kids are home.

Can pets get COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that companion animals or pets have been infected. It’s also unlikely that your pet can spread the virus.

How do I or my family get tested for coronavirus?

To test someone for COVID-19, or coronavirus, a mucus sample from your nose and back of your throat will be sent to the lab for testing.

Will coronavirus go away in the summer?

Eventually, coronavirus could become a seasonal virus. However, we don’t anticipate the changing weather and summer heat to reduce the spread of the infection. Continue to take standard precautions, like frequently washing your hands and staying home when sick.

Alexandra Rothstein