2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV aka COVID-19)

Please note this page is meant to provide general information on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to families. Below you'll find a list of recommended resources, frequently asked questions and recent news articles related to COVID-19. Because the situation is rapidly evolving, for the most up-to-date information, please continue to refer back to this page or the resources listed below. 


For more information about COVID-19, including risk factors and protection measures, please see below.

COVID-19 Basics

Coronaviruses belong to a family of viruses that most frequently cause a mild illness like the common cold. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new or novel coronavirus that was not previously known to cause illness in people. This new virus was first identified as the cause of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019, and has since spread to a growing number of international locations, including the US. From time to time new coronaviruses emerge and have the potential to cause severe disease and global epidemics. For example, the SARS and MERS viruses are both coronaviruses that previously caused outbreaks of severe respiratory illness around the world. We are learning more about COVID-19 every day, and Lurie Children’s is working closely with public health officials to minimize risks to our patients, families and healthcare workers.

Symptoms of those confirmed to have COVID-19 have generally been mild; this is particularly true in children. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. While most cases are mild, some patients have had a severe respiratory illnesses. Fewer than 3% of patients have died because of COVID-19, mostly those older than 70 years and those with chronic medical conditions.

Coronaviruses are mostly spread from person-to-person through:

  • Respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing (especially within six feet of another person)
  • Close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands

A person may also get infected by touching a surface with the virus on it, and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes before cleaning their hands. 

Risks for COVID-19

COVID-19 has how been diagnosed all over the world, in more than 100 countries on six (6) continents. Community spread has been identified in several countries in Asia, Europe, Middle East, and North America. The affected countries and CDC travel advisories can be found at: Locations with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and CDC Travel Notices.

Cases of COVID-19 in the Chicagoland area have been predominantly related to travel and exposure to other cases. However, the risk of coronavirus is increasing in the community in Chicago. This has been the driver for widespread school closures and closing of dine-in restaurants and bars. Please keep in mind that we continue to learn more and more each day, and it is best to find the latest updates by visiting https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

If you have traveled to a high-risk area within the past two weeks, then your risk for COVID-19 is certainly higher. As community transmission (infection becoming more common in the community) is being seen in more areas, additional countries are being identified as high risk.

  • Symptoms most commonly start within one (1) week of travel, but possibly up to 14 days after travel.
  • If you feel sick with respiratory illness symptoms including cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider.
  • You should contact your healthcare provider or local healthcare facility before visiting so that precautions can be taken to minimize risk of exposing others. 

Protecting Against COVID-19

  • Currently, the general risk to those living in the Chicagoland area is increasing.
  • The public health impact of COVID-19 is significant without aggressive public health measures.
  • COVID-19 severity of illness and risk of dying seems less than other epidemics of new coronaviruses (SARS and MERS), but the concern for severe disease in the elderly and patients of all ages with underlying medical problems is higher than with otherwise young and healthy individuals

Currently, there is no vaccine for the virus causing COVID-19. Healthcare officials stress the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Individuals should follow these preventive measures:

  • Wash hands with soap and water often, for 20 seconds each time
  • When soap and water is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick
  • Stay away from public places such as work, school and daycare when sick 
  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as phones, tables and doorknobs 
  • Teach your children and others to follow these steps

Although young healthy people will have a mild illness, infected individuals will spread the disease to others. Social distancing is a practice of generally avoiding large public gatherings to limit either becoming ill or spreading illness to others in the community, some of whom may be at risk for more severe complications of the illness. Social distancing is a proven strategy to limit spread of an epidemic. We recommend that families and children adhere to social distancing as much as possible. We are NOT advocating for strict around-the-clock isolation in your home. If you are well, we encourage you to continue to provide care to yourself, immediate family, and friends/family at higher risk of complications. If you are well, you should feel comfortable going out to get groceries and medicines, and you should consider doing this for those loved ones who cannot do this themselves or who themselves are at risk for COVID-19 complications. Small gatherings in the home with friends and family is safe as along as everyone gathering is well and without symptoms of COVID-19. 

The CDC is recommending avoiding non-essential travel to highly affected areas and taking precautions in many other areas. Please refer to CDC’s travel health notices relative to COVID-19 at the following link: CDC Travel Health Notices. While CDC is not restricting travel elsewhere in the US, it is being generally advised to reconsider travel plans to adhere to recommended practices of social distancing as described in the question above. Many hospitals, universities, and corporations have placed restrictions on work related domestic and international travel to help prevent employees from becoming ill.

Individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 will receive supportive care to help manage symptoms. Many treatments are being investigated in research studies but there is not a confirmed COVID-19 treatment at this time. Researchers are actively working on developing a vaccine, but we are at least a year away from a vaccine.

Our number one priority is to keep patients/families, healthcare workers and staff safe. At Lurie Children’s, since 2014, we have had a High Consequence Infectious Diseases (HCID) team that focuses on preparedness efforts for rare diseases. Our HCID team is working around the clock, 7 days a week, to modify our preparedness work.

  • We prepare our healthcare workers to rapidly identify patients at risk for coronavirus
  • We have plans in place for safely evaluating and treating those patients
  • Each day, our HCID team meets to continually monitor the progression of this coronavirus in the community, modify our preparedness plan in real time, and get debriefings from the Chicago Department of Public Health daily. This information is crucial for modifying policy and clinical practice recommendations in real time
  • We communicate important updates to our patients/families, healthcare workers and staff promptly as needed
  • We are identifying ways to expand COVID-19 testing capacity without relying on outside labs
  • We are developing protocols for safely and effectively treating patients with COVID-19

By taking these steps, we are confident that we can continue to provide safe, effective and compassionate care, even during an infectious diseases outbreak.

If your child is hospitalized at Lurie Children’s, please strictly adhere to our visitor policies as described above. We know that visitors are essential for the patient-family experience, but equally important is yours and your child’s health. Thus, visitors with illness should stay home to prevent spread of illness to our patients and healthcare workers. Please wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when entering the facility.

Our new visitation restriction policy can be found on our website. Learn more

To control the spread of COVID-19, Lurie Children’s is rescheduling non-urgent patient appointments and non-urgent, elective surgical procedures. Please contact your physician’s office if you have not been contacted or if you have questions.

COVID-19 Exposure & Illness

If you have had contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19, you should:

  • Contact your healthcare provider for further guidance, and let them know about your contact
  • Report if you have the following symptoms: fever, coughing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

Your healthcare provider will be able to take the necessary steps to help prevent further spread of the virus prior to your visit.

Generally, COVID-19 is spread through exposure to patients who are sick with COVID-19. Thus, if you were exposed to someone who was exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 but they themselves are not ill, your risk is very low.

Not every person with suspected COVID-19 needs evaluation and testing. Because COVID-19 is relatively mild, most patients won’t need care. Testing is currently limited but testing capacity is expected to increase in the near future. Even when capacity increases, seeking care still may not be necessary for every patient. Because seeking care can increase exposure to other patients and healthcare workers, including those who are at high risk of developing complications. Further, you may be at risk for contracting COVID-19 or other illnesses from other sick patients in waiting rooms. Thus, if your child has a mild illness, please stay home and provide supportive care for your child. Fever can be treated with over the counter medicines, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

If your child does need acute or emergency medical care, it is wise to call ahead to the healthcare facility or physician’s office to safely prepare for your arrival. When entering the facility, those with respiratory symptoms should put on a facemask, if available at the entrance or in the office.

In the News

COVID-19 & Children

Healthcare experts, including Lurie Children's physicians, weigh in on questions related to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the following news stories: 

Educational Activities for Children at Home 

For a list of educational activities for families during their time spent at home, please refer to the sites below: 

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