Coronavirus Updates

Frequently Asked Questions about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Last Updated: May 11, 2020

To help keep our patient families and communities safe and informed, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) medical experts gathered the following information to address frequently asked questions about the coronavirus.

Please note this is a rapidly evolving situation. We are regularly updating this page with key information as we receive it, but we encourage you to refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a reliable source for the most updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance.

If you have specific health-related concerns not addressed here or by the CDC, you can contact your child’s primary care provider for assistance or call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 1-800-722-7112. This helpline is staffed by CHOP employees and can help families in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. New Jersey residents with questions specific to their state can also call the NJ Coronavirus & Poison Center Hotline at 1-800-962-1253.

What is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. To learn about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), visit the CDC website or our CHOP.edu page about the disease.

How is COVID-19 spread?

There is much more to learn about how COVID-19 is spread and investigations are ongoing. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that mainly spread though respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory viruses spread.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 are very similar to influenza and have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Read more about COVID-19 symptoms or check your symptoms with our COVID-19 symptom checker.

Is my child at risk?

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and according to the CDC the risk assessment changes daily. For the latest updates, see the CDC's COVID-19 website.

How can I help protect myself?

Practice good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, including frequent hand washing and covering coughs, and frequently clean surfaces such as doorknobs and phones. Visit the CDC’s treatment and prevention page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, or read more from CHOP experts about how you can protect your family.

Should high-risk patients (e.g. those with underlying health conditions or immunosuppressed) take any special precautions?

There is currently no evidence that immunocompromised patients are at higher risk of catching coronavirus than other people.

We do not have specific information on whether COVID-19 infection will be more severe in immunocompromised patients compared to healthy people; however, other viruses often cause more severe disease in immunocompromised people.

Review the CDC’s recommendations for people who are at higher risk.

If you have questions or concerns about your child's health, please call your child's provider.

What should I do if I think someone in my family has been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

If you develop a fever, chills, sore throat and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, you should contact your medical provider immediately. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your or your family member's symptoms. Your healthcare provider will coordinate safe treatment and testing based on recommendations from your state’s public health department and CDC.

The CDC has detailed information about:

What should I do if I or someone in my household is sick with COVID-19?

If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild symptoms and are able to recover at home. Keep track of your symptoms, and get medical attention right away if you experience trouble breathing or another emergency warning sign.

Read the CDC’s instructions for what to do if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick.

Does CHOP perform tests to detect COVID-19?

CHOP providers will work with local and state health departments and the CDC to determine if testing is required based on your child’s symptoms and potential exposures. Not everyone with symptoms needs to be tested. You and your provider should partner on this decision. If a decision is made to test, CHOP will refer you for testing at one of our sites or an alternate location where specimens will be collected.

You may see drive-through clinics for COVID-19 testing located at the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research as well as CHOP’s Specialty Care & Surgery Centers in Bucks County and Brandywine Valley. To be tested at one of these sites, a patient must be referred by a medical provider or a State or County Department of Health. If you, your child, or someone in your family has symptoms of COVID-19, your first step should be to call your medical provider. They will coordinate safe testing and treatment and get you the care you need.

If your child is a CHOP patient, their provider may recommend they be seen for further assessment (either in-person or with a video visit), or they may refer them for COVID-19 testing. If your provider determines a test would be helpful, they will provide instructions for next steps on how to set up your lab appointment for testing, whether it’s in an office or at a drive-through site.

If your child’s healthcare provider has recommended testing, read these tips from CHOP child life specialists for preparing your child for drive-through COVID-19 testing.

The CARES act requires that providers post their cash price for COVID-19 testing. CHOP’s cash price for COVID-19 lab testing is $219. Health insurance plans are required to cover the cost of appropriately ordered COVID-19 tests without cost sharing. Please note, this price is only for the COVID-19 test. Other tests and screening may be ordered and provided at the same time of service, which will affect a total bill for this service. For questions, please call the Patient Cost Estimation Department at 267-426-1467.

If you have additional questions about testing at CHOP, call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 800-722-7112.

Is there a vaccine?

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19, although a global effort to find an effective vaccine is currently underway.

What are the treatments?

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection; however, people infected with the virus should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating COVID-19?

No; antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. COVID-19 is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for COVID-19, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

Should I cancel any upcoming trips?

Yes; the CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel. This information may change. For the most current  traveler information, visit the CDC’s Travelers' Health page.

Where can I find meal services for children while schools and many other public programs are closed?

Many school districts are posting updates on where children can find free meals and safe spaces while schools remain closed. Philadelphia residents can visit the City of Philadelphia’s website for updated information. Check your local school district websites for more local resources.

Where can I find additional community services?

Community Resource Connects is an online resource database to help patients, families and providers search for local community resources by zip code and key categories, such as food, financial support and more. This site is actively being updated with resources specific to COVID-19. Access the site here.

How do I talk to my child about COVID-19?

Your child has most likely heard something about COVID-19. Often times, limiting information from children can create additional worry. One way to reduce this worry and reassure your child is to provide honest and simple information. Our Child Life Department put together a few suggestions to guide you when discussing this situation with your family.

Do you have any other tools and resources for families during this time?

Take a look at our collection of resources for parents and caregivers dedicated to keeping children safe and well throughout these challenging times. CHOP experts, including child life specialists, integrative health providers, nutritionists, specialists in infectious disease and many others contributed to this collection to help the families and communities we serve.

I want to help. How can I donate supplies, food or other resources?

While CHOP currently has sufficient medical supplies available to our staff during this challenging time, we are ramping up our conservation efforts to ensure that we are well-positioned for the future. If you or your organization is interested in donating supplies, you can find instructions here. If you're interested in donating food, learn more here.

Sources: CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and Pennsylvania Department of Health


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