Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began, there have been concerns about how it might affect children. While they’re not typically considered among the populations most at-risk for the virus, kids can still get COVID-19 and can spread it to others, which goes a long way toward explaining the cancellation of everything from school to team sports to summer camps for millions of children nationwide.
Recent reports of a mysterious illness believed to have ties to coronavirus affecting a growing number of children in New York have prompted an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also is funding a study of 800 children who have tested positive for COVID-19 through Boston Children’s Hospital that is focusing on finding out why some children are more susceptible to the disease than others. Still, throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC has maintained that children do not appear to be at a higher risk for the virus than adults, and that adults make up a vast majority of confirmed coronavirus cases. Children who do test positive for COVID-19 typically exhibit milder symptoms than adults, although there is still plenty to learn about how the virus and its various strains impact children.
So, how can you keep your kids safe from potentially being infected? According to the CDC, by doing many of the same things you’re doing to protect yourself. Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and good hand hygiene are all ways kids can keep safe. Parents can, of course, help them by reminding them to wash their hands, by cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and by washing kids’ clothing and plush toys often to sanitize them. The CDC also recommends anyone over 2 years old wear a mask when going out in public – any younger than 2 and there’s a risk of suffocation.
As far as asymptomatic children hanging out with their friends, the CDC advises against allowing kids to hang out with kids from other households unless they practice proper social distancing – six feet between each kid – when playing, and even then, preferably outside instead of indoors. The CDC recommends parents arrange FaceTime or Skype calls between kids and their friends to maintain those important connections. And while that’s decidedly less fun than kids are probably used to, experts say it’s critical to helping keep everyone safe.
Many of the concerns about kids and COVID-19 come from their ability to spread the disease to others, particularly adults in the family who may fall into those most at-risk demographics. This can mean fewer visits with grandparents, aunts and uncles. Here, too, the CDC suggests helping kids stay in contact with relatives through phone calls or video calls. If you can’t stay home to take care of your out-of-school children, the CDC says to give careful consideration to who you’ll be putting in charge of caring for them. If it does have to be a grandparent, then make sure you’re doing all you can to protect not only your kids, but their caregivers, too.