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My child has symptoms consistent with COVID-19. How can I take care of them while staying safe?

The risk to children from COVID-19 appears to be much less than the risk to adults. Adults seem more likely to catch the virus and more likely to get very ill when they have it. This means that an important part of taking care of a child with COVID-19 is protecting others in your household from getting sick.

Be especially careful to avoid spread if your household includes anyone over age 65, anyone with a chronic condition or disability that affects heart, lungs, or immune function or anyone who is pregnant. LA Public Health has provided guidelines on taking care of persons with pre-existing medical conditions and pregnant women.

Children with certain medical conditions may be at increased risk for COVID-19. Current evidence suggests that children with medical complexity, with genetic, neurologic, metabolic conditions, or with congenital heart disease might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Similar to adults, children with obesity, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease, or immunosuppression might also be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. For more guidance, go to the CDC website.

  • Have your child who is sick stay in their own room, if possible. If they do not have their own room, choose a part of the house where they can be separated from other people. Consider using a barrier between the child and other household members.
  • Have your child use a separate bathroom, if possible. Otherwise, make sure the bathroom is wiped down after each use. See LA Public Health guidance on how to clean your home properly to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • If your child is over two years old, is able to take off a face mask on their own, and does not have any chronic breathing problems, help them use a surgical mask when they are around you and other household members at all times.
  • Teach your child to use a tissue when sneezing or coughing and then properly dispose of their used tissues. In case they don’t have a tissue, teach them to sneeze or cough into the inside of an elbow and immediately wash their hands and arms.
  • If possible, assign yourself or one family member as the sole caregiver for your child. Other household members can help in other ways, but it is best if only one person is regularly exposed to the child. Their caregiver should have a protective mask and wear gloves while touching the child or handling their toys, bedding, dishes, and so on. Even if the caregiver uses gloves, frequent handwashing is critical for a caregiver who is in and out of the child’s room. The caregiver should avoid touching their own face, eyes, nose, or mouth unless their hands were just washed.
  • Consider using disposable plates and utensils for the child’s meals. The plates and utensils used by your child need to be washed with dish soap or hot water after each use, or use a dishwasher is available.

If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical help by calling 911 immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest that doesn’t go away
  • New confusion
  • Can’t wake up or stay awake when not tired
  • Bluish lips or face

If your child is very young and are not able to take in fluids, contact your child’s healthcare provider right away.

For more detailed information, you can refer to guidelines provided by trusted health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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