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For Parents

Dallas County Health and Human Services - 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, TX 75207
Telephone: 214-819-2000

For Parents and Guardians

What to do when you or your child gets COVID-19

There is still much to learn, but we do know that children can get sick with COVID-19. The good news is that most children will only have mild symptoms similar to the common cold.  They may have a runny nose, cough, sore throat, or fever. Vomiting and diarrhea are possible, but rare. Some children may not have any symptoms at all.
It is not known whether children with underlying medical conditions or special healthcare needs are at higher risk. Medical and public health experts are working around the clock to learn as much as they can.

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads. The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to mainly spread from close contact (i.e., within about 6 feet) with a person who is currently sick with COVID-19. To prevent COVID-19 infection, practice these habits: 

  • Practice social distancing. This means staying at least six feet away from people who are sick to avoid illness. Stay home as much as you can and postpone playdates. Limit trips for gas, groceries, and other household needs. If you have to go out, stay at least six feet away from other people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. 

In addition, CDC and have additional tips for individuals, families, and households

Designate a Caretaker

  • Choose one person in the household to be the primary caretaker for your child.
  • Keep other household members away as much as possible.
  • Do not invite any unnecessary visitors to the house. 
  • Look out for symptoms in all household members. If anyone develops fever, cough, or shortness of breath, contact a doctor. Always call ahead before going to a doctor's office or emergency room. 

Seek medical advice, if needed

  • Call your child's doctor or set up an online visit. Your doctor knows your child's health history and whether they have any special risks.
  • Pay attention to your child's symptoms. Your child might need medical attention if they develop signs of more severe illness. Look out for fast breathing, fever that doesn't respond to fever-reducing medicine, or signs of dehydration (like peeing less than normal). Call 911 if your child has trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, or bluish lips or face.

Treat the symptoms

  • Keep your child hydrated. Make sure they drink a lot of fluids.
  • Consider over-the-counter medication for symptom relief. Talk with your child's doctor about the correct medication and dose.

Create physical distance

  • Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if at all possible. If that's not an option, try to stay at least 6 feet apart from each other when you're sleeping and interacting. This gets tough when you have small children who need diaper changes, help with feeding, and nighttime tuck-ins. Do what's realistic for your household.
  • Make sure that shared spaces have good airflow. Open a window or turn on an air conditioner.
  • Avoid contact with pets. Ask your child to postpone petting, snuggling, and getting kissed or licked.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces every day. Clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, bathrooms, diaper changing tables, toys, and crib railings. Be sure to disinfect any surfaces that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them. Pay special attention to shared bathrooms. If someone in your family has asthma, take precautions while cleaning to lower the risk of asthma attacks.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Wear disposable gloves if you have them, and keep the laundry away from your body. Wash your hands immediately after handling laundry, even if you wore gloves.
  • Teach your kids to be germ busters. Show them how to properly wash their hands. Ask them to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then throw the used tissue in the trash.

Take other precautions

  • Avoid sharing personal items. Be sure your family members don't share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. Make sure to thoroughly wash and dry items that your child has handled before others use them.
  • Use a mask, if possible. If your child's old enough to keep a mask on and you have one handy, ask them to wear it around other people. If that's not doable, consider wearing a mask when you're within six feet of each other. Keep in mind: there's a critical shortage of medical equipment right now, so only buy what you need. If you don't have a mask, consider using a scarf or bandana.
  • If possible, rely on another adult in the household for childcare responsibilities. 
  • If you're on your own, do your best to social distance and disinfect. First, remember: this is temporary. If you can, wear a mask and have your child wear a mask. Find creative ways to keep your child entertained from a safe distance and to show your love.
  • Depending on your circumstances, consider staying somewhere else. If another adult in the household can care for your sick child, and the option is available to you, consider staying with a trusted family member or friend. (See text box in question #5 below.)
  • If you interacted closely with your child in the two days before they were ill or while they were ill, follow precautions in case you were infected. Stay away from others as much as possible for 14 days.
  • Pay attention to your health and call your doctor if you develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
  • Every family's situation is unique. Consider how best to care for your children while also protecting your health.

Learn more from the CDC: People who are at higher risk for severe illness

If you get COVID-19 and the rest of your household is not sick, take these steps:

  • Follow the recommendations above (under "What should I do if my child gets COVID-19") – they apply to adults too.
  • If possible, rely on another adult in the household for childcare responsibilities.
  • If your child has an underlying health condition, consider having them stay with a trusted family member or friend while you are ill.
  • Pay attention to your child's health and call a doctor if they develop symptoms.

If someone in your home is sick, you may need help from a trusted family member of friend. Make sure the helper:

  • Is at low risk of serious illness. Do not choose someone who is 60 or older, has an underlying health issue, or is pregnant.
  • Does not have housemates in high-risk categories.
  • Is able to stay home and away from others for 14 days after they finish helping you. The helper should pay attention to their health and call their doctor if they develop symptoms.
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. However, much is unknown about COVID-19. Talk to your doctor about whether to start or continue breastfeeding, and then decide what’s best for your family.

If you breastfeed while ill, take steps to avoid spreading the virus: wash your hands before touching your baby and wear a mask if you have one. If it’s possible to express milk with a pump, consider having someone who’s healthy feed the baby. Be sure to wash your hands before touching a pump or bottle parts, and wash all pumping equipment after each use.

For more information, see the CDC's Pregnancy and Breastfeeding FAQ here.

Most people with mild cases of COVID-19 recover within one to two weeks. A sick person can rejoin household activities after at least seven days have passed since symptoms started AND 3 days (72 hours) after they have recovered. Recovery means being fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication, and seeing an improvement in symptoms.

Anyone who has been in close contact with a sick person should stay home and away from others for 14 days. During this time, they should pay attention to their health and call their doctor if they develop any symptoms.

Illness can be scary for kids, especially when it separates them from the people they love. Reassure your child that they will get better soon. Listen to their concerns and remain calm and comforting. Here are just a few resources to help get the conversation started:

For CDC coronavirus materials in other languages, visit the CDC Print Resources page. Web information is also available in SpanishChineseVietnamese, and Korean.