How dangerous is the coronavirus for kids? Here’s what experts are saying

As a major metro Atlanta school district shuts down Tuesday after a teacher was diagnosed with coronavirus, many parents are concerned about how the deadly illness could affect their children.

Fulton County Schools is shut down to sanitize schools Tuesday after a teacher who worked at two middle schools was hospitalized with the illness last week.

Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney said the teacher had “extensive contact” with students at Woodland and Bear Creek middle schools and the teacher may have had contact with faculty at Creekside High School.

Here’s what the CDC and other experts have to say about the virus and kids:

Are children more susceptible to the virus?

No. Most confirmed cases in China have occurred in adults. Infections have been reported in children, including very young children, but the cases have been limited.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said those most at risk “are people over the age of 60; they’re much more likely to develop complications from the coronavirus and to be hospitalized from the coronavirus. The average age of death is age 80.”

Adams went on to say that young children are more likely to die from the flu than coronavirus.

“There’s something about being young that is protective,” Adams said. “We want people to be reassured by that.”

According to the CDC, in previous outbreaks, similar viruses like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) and Middle East respiratory syndrome cornavirus also were relatively uncommon in children.

Are the symptoms worse for children than adults?

Of the small amount of kids that have tested positive for the illness, children have had cold-like symptoms like fever, runny nose and cough. These limited reports suggest that so far, children who have been infected have had mild symptoms.

Are children more likely to die from COVID-19 than adults?

There have been very few reports of the clinical outcomes for children with COVID-19 to date.

Most kids in China who have been infected have had mild symptoms. Some severe complications have been reported (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) but they appear uncommon. Kids with underlying health conditions may be more at risk.

Is there any treatment for children?

At the moment, there is no treatment recommended or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19.

How can I keep my kids from getting sick?

The CDC is encouraging preventative measures like frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizer, avoiding people who are sick and staying up-to-date on vaccines including the flu shot.

Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor of medical and global health at Emory University, said it appears the coronavirus can stay on a surface for several hours.

Most experts say the most important thing you can do is stay away from other people.

“Since it’s spread person-to-person by respiratory droplets, keeping people away from each other is the way to do it,” said Dr. Cherie Drenzek, Georgia’s chief epidemiologist.