As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt around the world, parents have particular questions about how to keep their families safe and healthy. We've collected answers to some of the most common questions parents have asked about coronavirus. Because the situation is evolving so rapidly, advice may change as new information comes to light.

Knowledge is power—and we want you to feel empowered, not panicked. Here are answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions from parents about coronavirus.


What should we do if there are coronavirus cases nearby?

Experts advise that the best course of action is to avoid transmitting or spreading the virus by social distancing: Basically, avoid unnecessary travel, stick close to home and do not gather in large groups. Currently, health experts are asking Americans to practice social distancing through at least April 30, 2020.

Hearing about canceled events and closures due to social distancing may be stressful, but health experts say this is actually a good thing. As stressful as it is to hear that schools and churches are closing, social distancing is an important weapon in "flattening the curve" of the infection's spread. And the best news is the social distancing measures that have been enacted so far seem to be having an effect on the rate of infections.

For more resources:

What are the symptoms of coronavirus? The CDC has updated its list

coronavirus flu cold symptom chart

Symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, may include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately for parents everywhere, those are also common symptoms of colds and flu. This chart breaks down how the symptoms of coronavirus differ from the symptoms of cold, flu, RSV and seasonal allergies.

The CDC also lists a loss of taste or smell as a symptom to watch for, in addition to chills, muscle pain and shaking due to chills. Some studies have also noted that skin lesions on the toes or hands, sometimes referred to as COVID toes, can occur in children and adults with the virus.

If anyone in my family has symptoms, what should we do?

The CDC advises that you call your doctor or health care provider if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus that include high fever, cough and shortness of breath. It's still likely to be difficult to get tested, even if you are showing symptoms, but your doctor will be able to provide next steps for your care even without a test to confirm exposure.

Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion or inability to arouse and blueness in the lips or face. These symptoms are signs that you should call 911 immediately. The operator should be told that you that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

Other steps to take if you experience symptoms, as recommended by the CDC:

  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Wear a face mask if you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day.
  • Monitor your symptoms and call your doctor immediately if your symptoms worsen.

After an earlier rumor that people with suspected cases of COVID-19 should not be taking ibuprofen, the World Health Organization has clarified its position. If you're trying to treat a child's fever the WHO does not oppose the use of either ibuprofen (Children's Advil or Motrin) or acetaminophen (Children's Tylenol).

What can I do to keep my family from getting sick?

While there's no silver bullet that will prevent coronavirus, experts recommend frequent hand-washing, cleaning high-touch surfaces in the house regularly (here's how to clean your house to prevent coronavirus) and paying close attention to hygiene.

There are also some simple actions you can take to help boost your family's immune systems overall, such as getting enough sleep and eating healthful foods. And of course, social distancing is the top method health professionals recommend to prevent yourself—and others—from transmitting the virus.

More resources about how coronavirus impacts children, babies, and moms-to-be:

Is it okay to take kids out to public places? Can we go to the playground?

Especially if you're living in an area where the number of cases is rapidly rising, experts recommend using an abundance of caution and staying home as much as possible. That means not scheduling any unnecessary social gatherings like birthday parties, sleepovers and play dates. Playgrounds are also not advised right now.

Social distancing for families is hard, but it's so important to take it seriously. Taking kids to ride bikes or for a walk—where it's easy to maintain space between people—is okay, but taking kids to shopping centers, playgrounds and other public places where large numbers of people gather in close contact is discouraged.

Right now, the best places for kids to play is at home.


More ideas for keeping kids busy during the coronavirus pandemic:

Is it safe to travel with kids?

The answer is changing every day, but experts say that local travel by car is perfectly safe. It may be wisest to postpone family vacations through the summer, though. (And Disneyworld is closed, anyway.)

How do I tell my kids about coronavirus?

Talking to your kids about coronavirus is important, whether you're soothing their worries or simply reminding them about the importance of good hand washing. The potential for disruption to daily life is high, but the CDC still says the risk to children is low.

Be calm, meet your child where they are in terms of their interest level in the news and remember that it's okay not to have all the answers.

More resources for talking with kids about coronavirus + social distancing and managing their fears:

What do pregnant women need to know about coronavirus?

Here's everything we know about giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic so far.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has noted precautions that pregnant women and nursing women should take to help limit their exposure to coronavirus and stresses that pregnant women should stay in touch with their care providers to be advised of the most recent protocols.

Here are the current guidelines for pregnant women from ACOG:

  • Pregnant people should report concerning symptoms immediately: these include fever, cough, and chest tightness or difficulty breathing.
  • Providers will be following a detailed algorithm when deciding when to test pregnant people for COVID-19. The primary criteria involve assessing the presence of coronavirus symptoms.
  • Regarding travel, pregnant women (like all people) should adhere to the Centers for Disease Control recommendations for specific areas, in addition to consulting with their providers.
  • ACOG does not currently recommend that women change their labor + delivery plans in response to the pandemic.
  • ACOG also does not endorse that women plan to give birth at home rather than at their hospital, noting that "ACOG believes that the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center" as opposed to giving birth at home.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 while pregnant, you should know that it does not appear that COVID-19 can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus, according to studies. That said, pregnant women who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to take special precautions during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Here are the current guidelines from ACOG for pregnant women who have tested positive:

  • Follow advice from the CDC, your OB-GYN and your primary health care provider.
  • Stay home except to get medical care. Avoid public transportation.
  • Speak with your health care team over the phone before going to their office. Get medical care right away if you feel worse or think it's an emergency.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home.
  • Wear a face mask when you are around other people and when you go to get medical care.
After delivery, your doctor or midwife may recommend your baby be cared for in another part of the hospital temporarily. This is done as a protective measure for the infant and only in certain cases, with careful consideration. The CDC says that when it comes to separating a mother and baby due to COVID-19 concerns, the risks and benefits should be explained to the mother, and it should not be considered the first or only option.

Can I start IVF during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you are about to start IVF, you should speak with your reproductive endocrinologist about whether they are starting any IVF cycles at this time, and about the risks of going forward with your cycle. Motherly's education editor and certified nurse midwife Diana Spalding recommends that people consider freezing their embryos and not do a fresh transfer right now—we are still learning a lot about the impacts of coronavirus on pregnancy so delaying conception a bit may decrease the chance of potential risks associated with the infection.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and infants, and it is unclear if COVID-19 can cross the placenta. Since pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from similar respiratory infections, pregnant women are considered an "at-risk population" for COVID-19.

The data on coronavirus infections in pregnancy is minimal. Providing care for pregnant women with severe infections will possibly be more difficult and resource-intensive. Some of the drugs that are being considered for treatment may not be usable in pregnant women, for instance.

It may be best to postpone your cycle for multiple reasons, including unknown risks of infection during pregnancy, desire to minimize in-person interactions, and preserving medical resources for urgent COVID-19 patients.

When will kids go back to school?

As of this update, school closures have impacted public and private schools and preschools in all 50 states.

It's not clear when schools will reopen, and the timeline for ending school closures depends on where you live. As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the U.S., extended school closures are looking like an unavoidable reality for most communities.

This is nothing short of a crisis for working parents who depend on public schools to provide a safe learning environment for their children during the day while they're at work, and it reveals a gaping hole in our country's support network for parents.

The good news is, there's almost never been a better time for kids to learn at home, thanks to improvements in educational technology like remote learning platforms and educational apps. And there are hundreds of ways to make the time at home meaningful, thoughtful and educational, whether that's through spending family time together, or through math, art, science, and music projects you can do at home.

Here are resources to bookmark that may be helpful:

What should I do if I can't pay my bills because I'm out of work?

We understand this is a tough time right now, mama, and not everyone is getting paid while they're out of work. The federal government has announced relief payments for people affected by the pandemic and pushed back the tax deadline to July 15, although if you qualify for a refund, you should file earlier. There are a few additional things you can do if you're facing hardship:

  1. Call your landlord or the bank that holds your mortgage and discuss your options during a pandemic. Some states are seeking to ban evictions during the pandemic.
  2. Contact your credit card company and ask about payment plan options, or if there are any interest deferrals during a time of crisis.
  3. If you have student loan payments, interest payments on federal loans have been paused during the pandemic. Speak to your loan provider to see if there are any other resources available.
  4. Contact your local diaper bank if you cannot afford more diapers. You can find one close to you here.
  5. Here's what to do if you cannot afford baby formula, or if you cannot find baby formula in your area. We're also tracking places where parents can find formula, diapers and wipes.
  6. Here's where to find free and low-cost food during the pandemic.
  7. Call your representatives in state and municipal government. Some areas are making plans to help those hit by financial hardship during this time.

How do I work from home with kids around?

With offices across the country encouraging workers to clock in remotely, and schools closing in district after district, finding a way to work from home with kids is a high priority for a growing number of parents. It's definitely possible—and we've got lots of work from home strategies to help (the entire staff at Motherly works from home—almost all of us with kids—so we're all right there with you, mama).

[This post was originally published April 3, 2020. It has been updated.]

Renee Leanna/Facebook

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