What You Should Know About COVID-19

Published on 
November 9, 2021

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is working diligently to protect our patients, families and team members from COVID-19. We asked our experts for facts that can help answer the most essential questions parents have. Below, you’ll find information about this virus, what is being done to prevent its further spread, and how you can protect yourself from the threat of infection.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

The CDC notes that symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How does a coronavirus spread?

Among people, the virus typically spreads through coughing and sneezing, personal contact with an infected person. Less commonly, COVID-19 could potentially be spread by touching an infected surface and then the mouth, nose or eyes, but that is not thought to be the primary way the disease is spread.

How can people help prevent the spread of the disease? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

  • Get vaccinated when you are eligible.
  • Wear masks when recommended. Currently, if you live in a region with higher rates of COVID-19 transmission, wear masks indoors with people outside your immediate household, even if you are vaccinated. Consider wearing them outdoors if you will be in a large group of people.
  • Practice physical distancing (staying at least six feet away from others).
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wash your hands or sanitize them with alcohol gel often.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
  • Monitor your health daily. If you have any symptoms concerning for COVID-19, stay home except to get tested for the virus.

Is COVID-19 treatable? 

The best treatment is prevention, so get vaccinated when you are eligible. Since COVID-19 is caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t work. A few treatments for the disease have been developed, but their effectiveness varies. Long term complications can arise from COVID-19, and no treatment is yet known how to reduce that risk. Long term complications can arise from COVID-19, and there is no treatment to reduce the risk of long term health issues. However, vaccines can help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Who is eligible for the vaccine?

Anyone over age 5 is now eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Click here for answers to your questions about children and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Is CHLA screening patients and visitors? 

Our medical staff is adhering to all the latest guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in all their interactions with patients in the effort to prevent spread of the virus. All visitors to the hospitals are being screened for COVID-19 diagnosis, symptoms of the disease, and confirmed exposure to a COVID-19 patient. This includes parents staying with children who are admitted to the hospital. Anyone failing to pass the verbal screening will not be permitted on campus. To stay overnight in the hospital, visitors must also submit proof of full vaccination OR a negative test every 72 hours OR proof of COVID-19 infection in the last 10-90 days. Additionally, all CHLA patients are being tested for the virus upon admission to the hospital. This includes testing patients with upcoming procedures. Click here for our latest visitor guidelines.

What signs should cause people to seek medical attention? 

Seek emergency medical attention immediately if you or your child develop:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you suspect it is COVID-19, call the doctor or tell the emergency department when you arrive, so the facility can help ensure that you don’t expose anyone else to the virus, if you have it.

Should I put a mask on my baby?

No, you should not. The recommendation from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the state of California and Los Angeles County to wear a cloth facial covering when appropriate does not apply to children under age 2. The primary reason, as Children’s Hospital Los Angeles infectious diseases physician Michael Smit, MD, explains, is the mask’s potential to cause breathing difficulties for a small child. That combined with babies’ inability to convey their distress or remove the mask on their own could create the threat of suffocation.

“They can’t communicate readily if they’re having problems breathing,” says Dr. Smit, CHLA’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control. “You don’t want to think that you’re trying to help your child by putting a cloth mask on them, and then inadvertently put them at risk for suffocating themselves.” Click here for more information on masking.

Where can the most up-to-date information be found? 

The situation is likely to continue changing as more information and facts about the new virus emerge. For the most current information, visit the CDC website: www.cdc.gov.

Click here for COVID-19 information for patients, parents and visitors at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.