About COVID-19

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. The virus emerged in China in late 2019 and began spreading in the United States in January 2020. Most children are not as severely affected by the virus as adults are, and have mild to moderate symptoms. Some children with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms at all, but may still spread the virus to others.


  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle pain or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

How the virus spreads

The coronavirus is mainly spread from person to person through tiny drops of saliva or fluids from the mouth or nose when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. The virus can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.


  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Also, be sure to wash your hands before eating or preparing food and after using the restroom.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay at least 6 feet from other people outside your household.
  • Avoid people who are sick. In particular, keep your distance from anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or showing other signs of illness.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces every day. This includes areas of your home such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, countertops, tables, chairs, desks, keyboards, faucets, sinks, and toilets.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

A small number of children have developed a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Many children who have developed this condition had the virus that causes COVID-19 in the past, or had been around someone with the virus. Contact your child’s healthcare provider if your child is showing these symptoms:

  • fever
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • neck pain
  • rash
  • bloodshot eyes
  • feeling extra tired

Seek emergency care right away if your child is showing any of these emergency warning signs of MIS-C or other concerning signs:

  • trouble breathing
  • pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
  • new confusion
  • inability to wake or stay awake
  • bluish lips or face
  • severe abdominal pain


Most children with COVID-19 get better with rest, fluids, and fever-reducing medicine. Children with more severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized. The goal is to provide hydration, reduce respiratory problems with oxygen or breathing support, and decrease inflammation to avoid long-term damage.

When to Seek Emergency Care

Go to the emergency department or call 911 if your child shows any of the following symptoms of respiratory distress:

  • Signs of breathing problems – look for muscles pulling in between the ribs or the nose puffing out with each breath.
  • Turns blue.
  • Becomes confused or very sleepy.