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Kids and the coronavirus: What you need to know

Walking by a closed restaurant in the South End during the coronavirus outbreak.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

This story was updated with new information on April 14.

The coronavirus outbreak has many parents wondering: How could this affect my children?

The good news is, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults.

Infants and children have been sick with COVID-19, but adults make up "most of the known cases to date,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The symptoms are similar in both children and adults, but children have “generally presented with mild symptoms,” according to the CDC.

“Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough," the CDC website states. “Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.”


But there are still many unanswered questions on how the disease affects youngsters.

“It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special healthcare needs," the CDC website states. "There is much more to be learned about how the disease impacts children.”

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC officials now recommend that “everyone 2 years and older” wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when they go out into the community.

“Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies or children younger than 2 because of the danger of suffocation,” the CDC website warns. “Children younger than 2 years of age are listed as an exception as well as anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.”

CDC officials also are reminding the public that medical face masks and N95 respirators are reserved for use by health care personnel and first responders, and people who wear cloth face coverings must still abide by social distancing guidelines.


“A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others,” the CDC website states. “This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms.”

To prevent the spread of the virus, CDC officials recommend that children clean their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Parents should remind kids not to touch their faces, and to avoid people who are coughing and sneezing. Household surfaces (such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, toilets, sinks) should be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis, and children’s plush toys should be washed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

“If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely," the CDC website states. “Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.”

And what about kids with asthma?

According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website, children with asthma “may have more severe symptoms from COVID-19 or any other respiratory disease, including the flu.”

“As yet, there are no indications that most children with asthma experience severe symptoms due to the coronavirus, but observe them carefully and, if symptoms develop, call the child’s doctor to discuss next steps and to arrange appropriate evaluation as needed," the website states.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.