By Dr. Jennifer Wehberg

Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19 for short, went from being something big on the news in faraway countries to affecting everyday life for each of us in a short period of time. With the constant coverage and the ever-changing updates and regulations, it is natural to be stressed and overwhelmed with the progression of this disease. 

What is COVID-19? 

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease that targets the lungs. It is new, rapidly spreading, and has not caused illness in humans before. It is passed through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, and touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. 

How should I talk to my kids about COVID-19? 

Talking with your kids and giving age appropriate, factual information is the first step in reducing stress about this disease that they have heard so much about and that has disrupted their routines. 

• Ask them what they know about the virus, what they have heard, and what their fears are. Correct any misinformation and acknowledge their fears while reassuring them that they are safe. 

• When talking to children, it is appropriate to liken this virus to any encounters they have had with the cold or flu, as the symptoms are similar. This may take away some of their fear of the unknown. 

• Help empower your kids to feel some control over this situation by encouraging them to share all the healthy habits they know and praising them when they practice these habits routinely. 

COVID-19 Prevention 

Speaking of healthy habits, the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection will sound similar to past information you have heard about the cold and flu. Frequent hand washing, surface disinfection, coughing and sneezing into elbows, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of sleep are all “germ-busters”. 

The big buzzword in terms prevention is social distancing. Keep distance between your family and others and especially avoid crowds. You can explain to your child that the purpose of school and all their favorite activities being closed is to slow the spread of these germs. We strongly encourage you to keep children home in order to lessen the effects of transmission of this disease on those older, immunocompromised, or otherwise medically at risk. 

What are the signs/symptoms in children? 

Children with confirmed COVID-19 generally have had much milder symptoms than adults. These include fever, runny nose, and cough. 

How is COVID-19 treated? 

There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. It is managed supportively through rest, hydration, and routine symptom management such as cough and fever-reducing medication. 

What should I do if my child has symptoms? 

• Remember, keep calm! These symptoms are related to many common childhood illnesses. 

• If the child has been directly in contact with someone who has tested positively for COVID-19, but is asymptomatic, please maintain a 14-day quarantine and continue to monitor for symptoms. 

• Call ahead to your child’s doctor if they are having mild respiratory symptoms and/or fever. If your child has had direct contact with someone that has tested positively for COVID-19, call into the office before entering to check-in. The Maryland Department of Health is asking the public to avoid unscheduled visits to health care providers, so call ahead for an appointment. Some practices now offer telemedicine and even curbside visits to limit exposure. 

• Reasons to go to the Emergency Department are the same as with other illness: severe or persistent respiratory distress, dehydration, lethargy, and if your child is less than 2 months old and has a fever 

• Per the Maryland Department of Health, “testing for COVID-19 may not be appropriate for everyone.” 

People who are mildly ill should not go to the ER and those who are asymptomatic do not need to be tested, regardless of exposure. This may change as testing supplies and lab capacity increases. 

About Gateway Pediatrics, PA 

Gateway Pediatrics is celebrating 10 years of serving newborns through 21 years of age in Salisbury. Their mission is to provide quality, evidence-based pediatric care with an emphasis on individual needs. Learn more at