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coronavirus information for pediatric patients

What parents need to know about COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is at the top of everyone’s mind. And as a parent, you may be wondering how the virus could affect your child and family. 

Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital are prepared to help you keep your family well. 

Read on for guidance and ways you can protect yourself and your family.


Here’s what you need to know

What are coronaviruses and COVID-19? 

Coronaviruses are a large family of diverse, common viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to a severe lower respiratory tract infection, like pneumonia. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that usually includes not only an upper respiratory tract infection, but also a lower respiratory tract infection, which can lead to pneumonia and breathing issues. 

How is COVID-19 spread?

Viruses that cause respiratory illnesses, like flu, cold or COVID-19, all spread in these ways:

  • Inhaling droplets in the air from someone’s cough or sneeze
  • Having close personal contact, such as hugging or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

Symptoms of a COVID-19 infection can resemble that of a cold or flu and typically include a fever, shortness of breath and cough.

Symptoms range from mild to severe and can appear as early as 2 days and as late as 14 days after exposure. The expanded list of symptoms now includes:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • New loss of taste of smell
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain

This isn’t a complete list, but the most common symptoms of COVID. Of course, these are also symptoms of other illnesses, so if you or your child have any of them, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID-19.

If you think your child is developing symptoms, call their doctor first.

If your child is having symptoms you think may be related to COVID-19, before you visit a doctor’s office, clinic or emergency room, use our self-screening tool, call your doctor, pediatrician or our hotline at 570-284-3657 for care guidance or to talk with a nurse.

Your doctor or pediatrician will recommend the appropriate next steps.

Children and infants, if affected by COVID-19, will typically experience mild symptoms.

While some children and infants have gotten sick with COVID-19, most cases to date have been in adults. And so far, most children who have had COVID-19 were not seriously ill.

However, remember that children with COVID-19, even with mild symptoms like a fever and a cough, can transmit the virus to others. This is particularly important if you have family members at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, such as those 60 and older and those with health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Should I talk to my child about COVID-19?

Your child has most likely heard about COVID-19. One way to reduce anxiety and reassure your child is by being honest and providing simple, easy-to-digest information. Read our tips for talking to your child about COVID-19.

Are there limits on visitation? 

Yes. For the health and safety of our patients and staff, we are limiting visitors in both our inpatient (at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital) and outpatient (clinic) settings. 

View our updated visitation policy for more details.

How you can protect your child 

Just like with the flu, the best way to protect your family from COVID-19 is through common-sense prevention measures:

  • Get your child vaccinated against COVID-19 when they’re eligible. Learn more about the vaccine.
  • Practice social distancing. Don’t shake hands, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing or visiting public areas. Hand sanitizers and wipes with at least 60% alcohol are also good options.
  • Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Keep surfaces clean and disinfected at your home, workplace and school.

Take extra care to avoid crowded and closed public spaces, such as public transportation, theaters and restaurants. Limit travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly updates travel recommendations during the pandemic. Visit the CDC website to get the most up-to-date information.

This doesn’t mean your family is housebound, though. Your kids can play outside, ride their bikes and go for walks. If you take your family grocery shopping, consider bringing your own bags and make sure to wipe down cart handles. Wash your hands afterward. 

But if your kids are sick or showing signs of an illness, be cautious about going into public spaces and keep them home from school or work.

Helpful resources for coronavirus updates

Now more than ever, we need to stay calm and seek information from reliable sources. Here are a few trusted resources we recommend: 

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COVID-19 updates: Visit Geisinger's Coronavirus Resource Center for the latest information and helpful resources.