nutch_noindex
CANCEL
COVID-2019 Alert

Information about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Read the latest >

Información sobre el coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Aprenda más >

/nutch_noindex

Information About the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For a year, we have faced the challenges of living through this pandemic together. And while we have more reasons to hope with each passing day that we will eventually defeat this virus, it is clear the crisis is far from over.

Even with so much uncertainty, the science is clear. We know what works to stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask. Masks can save lives, including your own.
  • Wash your hands. Thorough handwashing stops the virus from spreading.
  • Keep your distance. Avoid gatherings and stay 6 feet apart from those you don’t live with.

Stanford Children’s Health is here for you and will remain open even during shelter-in-place and continue to care for patients safely. Below is an FAQ to help keep you informed about COVID-19, developments at Stanford Children’s Health, and steps you can take to protect yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

About COVID-19

Q: What is a novel coronavirus?

A: A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

How it spreads

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Q: Can someone who has had COVID-19 spread the illness to others?

A: The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

How long someone is actively sick can vary so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention and control experts, and public health officials and involves considering specifics of each situation including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for that patient.

Current CDC guidance for when it is OK to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis and includes meeting all of the following requirements:

  • The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
  • The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.

Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.

Q: Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others?

A: Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure.

For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.

How to protect yourself

Q: How can I help protect myself?

A: Visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.

CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people. Keep about 6 feet between yourself and others.
  • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.

For information specific to health care, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Health Care Settings.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. 

Q: What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?

A: There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 available online.

Symptoms and testing

Q: What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?

A: Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Q: Should I be tested for COVID-19?

A: If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider.

Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild.

If you have severe symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips of face, contact your healthcare provider or emergency room and seek care immediately. Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.

Q: Can a person test negative and later test positive for COVID-19?

A: Yes, it is possible. You may test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during this illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then. Even if you test negative, you still should take steps to protect yourself and others. See Testing for Current Infection for more information.

Expectant mothers

Q: Are pregnant women more susceptible to infection, or at increased risk with COVID-19?

A: Based on what we know at this time, pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and death, compared to non-pregnant people. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 might be at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth (delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks). 

Actions to take if you are pregnant

  • Do not skip your prenatal care appointments.
  • Limit your interactions with other people as much as possible.
  • Take precautions to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.
  • Make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your medicines.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about how to stay healthy and take care of yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you don’t have a healthcare provider, contact your nearest community health center or health department.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have any questions related to your health.
  • Seek care immediately if you have a medical emergency.
  • You may feel increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Learn about stress and coping.
  • Learn more about how to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19.

Q: How can pregnant women protect themselves from getting COVID-19?

A: Pregnant women should do the same things as the general public to avoid infection. You can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by taking these actions:

  • Wear a cloth face covering
  • Cover your cough (using your elbow is a good technique)
  • Avoid people who are sick
  • Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer

You can find additional information on preventing COVID-19 disease at CDC’s (Prevention for 2019 Novel Coronavirus).

Q: Can COVID-19 be passed from a pregnant woman to the fetus or newborn?

A: According to the CDC, mother-to-child transmission of coronavirus during pregnancy is unlikely, but after birth a newborn is susceptible to person-to-person spread. A very small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth. However, it is unknown if these babies got the virus before or after birth. The virus has not been detected in amniotic fluid, breastmilk, or other maternal samples.

Learn more about the changes Stanford Children’s Health is doing to safeguard pregnant mothers.

Q: If a laboring mother has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, how can she prevent from passing it to her newborn baby?

A: To reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 from the mother to the newborn, the CDC recommends temporarily separating (e.g., separate rooms) the mother who has confirmed COVID-19 or is a PUI from her baby until the mother’s transmission-based precautions are discontinued, as described in the Interim Considerations for Disposition of Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19.

Q:  What are some guidelines on breastfeeding for mothers with confirmed COVID-19 or under investigation for COVID-19?

A: Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. However, much is unknown about COVID-19. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers.  

A mother with confirmed COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic PUI should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. 

If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.

Q: Can the transmission of COVID-19 be spread through breast milk?

A: Current evidence suggests that breast milk is not likely to spread the virus to babies. Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses and is the best source of nutrition for most babies.

If you have COVID-19 and choose to breastfeed

  • Wash your hands before breastfeeding
  • Wear a mask while breastfeeding and whenever you are within 6 feet of your baby

Q: Should I get the COVID-19 vaccination?

A: CDC and the independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have provided information to assist pregnant people with their decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, ACIP recommends that certain groups (e.g., healthcare personnel, followed by other frontline essential workers) are offered vaccination during the first months of the COVID-19 vaccination program. People who are pregnant and part of a group recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may choose to be vaccinated. If they have questions about getting vaccinated, a discussion with a healthcare provider might help them make an informed decision.

Q: I am worried about going to my prenatal or postpartum appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A: Do not skip your prenatal care appointments or postpartum appointments due to COVID-19. Talk to your healthcare provider and ask what safety measures are they doing to keep patients safe. 

Some healthcare providers might choose to cancel or postpone some visits. Others may switch certain appointments to telemedicine visits, which are appointments over the phone or video. These decisions will be based on the circumstances in your community as well as your individual care plan.

Call your healthcare provider if you have an urgent medical question.

COVID-19 and children

Q: What is the risk of my child becoming sick with COVID-19?

A. Children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and can get sick with COVID-19. Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or they may have no symptoms at all (“asymptomatic”). Fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults. However, children with certain underlying medical conditions and infants (less than 1 year old) might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Some children have developed a rare but serious disease that is linked to COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

Q: What about children who have preexisting conditions and/or additional health risks?

A. At present, Stanford Children’s Health care teams are advising pediatric patients with existing medical conditions to follow the same guidelines that are in place for all children, including social distancing and thorough handwashing.

Parents should contact their pediatrician if their child shows signs of COVID-19, and follow their doctor’s directions on obtaining testing if appropriate. Parents of patients with subspecialty needs should call their subspecialty providers if their child is diagnosed with or being tested for COVID-19, so that their care team can advise them in real time.

People of any age who have certain underlying medical conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In addition to following the recommendations to prevent getting sick, families can take steps recommended for children with underlying conditions or disability.

For more information, see Children and Teens and Others who Need Extra Precautions.

Q: What is pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, and how is it linked to the coronavirus?

A: The CDC is collaborating with domestic and international partners to investigate reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. CDC and partners are working to better understand this new syndrome, including how common it is and its risk factors, and to begin tracking cases.

Infectious disease experts at Stanford Children’s Health want to reassure families that this complication is very rare and are closely monitoring reports about the disease as scientists around the world work to understand MIS-C. It is currently unknown if multisystem inflammatory syndrome is specific to children or if it also occurs in adults.

The syndrome resembles other inflammatory diseases and has certain characteristics in common with Kawasaki disease, which is rare and typically affects children age 5 and younger, though it can occur in older kids. 

Q: Are the symptoms of COVID-19 different in children than in adults?

A: No. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. 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 health care needs. There is much more to be learned about how the disease impacts children.

Q: Should children wear masks?

A: The CDC recommends everyone to wear a cloth face covering in public settings. However, cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

COVID-19 and Stanford

Q: What steps are being taken at the hospital and Stanford Children’s Health clinics to protect patients from becoming infected with COVID-19?

A: With standard protocols in place at all times and working closely with our local and national government health agencies to update protocols as necessary, Stanford Children’s Health is well-prepared to continue caring for patients. These precautionary measures include:

  • Symptom screening of patients and caregivers are conducted at the main entrances to our clinics. Of note, pulmonology patients with a cough will still be allowed into clinic if they do not have other COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever.
  • The existing visitor restrictions policy remains in place to limit the number of people in the hospital and clinics and to protect our patients and staff.
  • When possible, alternate clinic entrances are utilized, and patients will be taken directly to exam rooms once they have checked in.

Q: Is it safe to go to the hospital or doctor’s office?

A: Stanford Children’s Health has well-established measures in place to prevent transmission of all communicable diseases, including flu and other respiratory illnesses. There are respiratory etiquette stations for persons visiting with cough, and hand sanitizer is available. Our staff is trained to screen patients for cough, fever, and recent travel when they arrive. 

If you are ill, please call ahead to your health care provider’s office prior to arriving.

Our hospitals and clinical locations have taken additional measures to ensure safety for all patients, visitors and staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have specific questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask your health care provider prior to your visit.

Q: What is telehealth virtual visits?

A: Telehealth virtual visits allow patients and/or their guardians to interact and consult with their health care provider, who can review the patient’s medical information for the purposes of diagnosis and treatment, go over test results, fulfill prescriptions, and provide patient education.

Virtual visits are being used both for virtual COVID-19 evaluations and to support non–COVID-19–related health care remotely to minimize patient and family exposure and support social distancing.

To get started with telehealth, talk with your provider’s office to see if you are a good candidate for virtual care.

To learn more about this service, read the latest story.

Q: Where can I find more information about COVID-19 Pediatric Drive-Through Testing?

A: A member of your care team will call you to schedule an appointment for drive-through testing. During that phone call, you will be told where to go for the test. Learn more about COVID-19 Pediatric Drive-Through Testing.


The CDC website has additional FAQs on the topics of TravelPregnant Women and COVID-19, and COVID-19 and animals.

This page was adapted from CDC.gov, last accessed January 11, 2021. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

The Great Race: a COVID-19 Story

The Great Race: A COVID-19 StoryPlay

Wear a mask. Together we are stronger. Scientists are encouraging everyone to wear masks to control the spread of COVID-19.

Watch now >

Limiting Visitors to the Hospital

Making sure everyone is healthy is important for you and your child, and all of our patients. One way we are doing this is by limiting the number of people in the hospital. As a reminder, anyone with a cough, runny nose, fever, or sore throat should not come to the hospital.

Current visitor guidelines

    For the health and safety of our patients, families, and staff, Visitors are not allowed in the hospital and clinics at this time. Specific caregivers (parent/guardian) for patients are allowed based on our guidelines.

    Ways for patients to stay in touch with friends and family:

    1. Make a phone call or video chat the child/family 
    2. Text, send an e-mail or greeting card.
    3. Send balloons (mylar type only) or other gifts by ordering from the gift shop (650) 497-8596 during shop hours
    Visit our COVID-19 Patient Education >
    nutch_noindex
    /nutch_noindex