Coronavirus: What Families Need to Know


Human coronaviruses are a family of viruses that typically cause mild illness, like the common cold. In December 2019, a novel (or new) coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan City, China. The name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is COVID-19 (“CO” stands for “corona,” “VI” for “virus,” and “D” for “disease”).

What Families Need To Know about COVID-19

Most people with COVID-19 infection have mild symptoms. A smaller number of people have severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. It’s important to keep in mind that, during this time of year, allergies, the flu, and colds are much more likely to cause symptoms. Most people do not need testing for COVID-19. For those who need to be tested, testing is becoming more readily available throughout Tennessee, regardless of insurance. If you have any concerns about your child’s health or if your child was exposed to COVID-19, contact his or her health care provider. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

-          Fever

-          Cough

-          Difficulty breathing

How to Protect Your Family

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Here are ways to keep your family healthy and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections:

·         Stay home. Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community

·         Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

·         Teach kids to cough and sneeze into their arm or elbow, not their hands.

·         Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and teach kids to do the same.

·         Stay home if you are sick and keep your kids at home if they are sick.

·         Keep your kids away from people who are sick.

·         Clean and disinfect household objects and surfaces in your home.

·         Follow CDC’s guidance on traveling.

·         Keep kids up to date on vaccines, including the flu vaccine.

How to Talk to Kids about COVID-19

The news coverage of COVID-19 can be overwhelming for parents and scary for kids. The CDC has these tips for talking to children about COVID-19 in a way they understand:

Remain calm and reassuring. Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.

Make yourself available to listen and to talk. Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.

Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma. Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.

Minimize screen time and pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

Provide information that is honest and accurate. Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child. Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.

Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs (washing hands often, coughing into their sleeves, getting enough sleep, etc.). This will also give them a sense of control over the situation.



Information for Tennesseans

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is continuing to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies to provide the most up-to-date information to Tennesseans.

TDH has launched a Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line in partnership with the Tennessee Poison Center. The hotline number is 877-857-2945 and will be available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central daily.

TDH has additional information available at

The CDC has updated information and guidance available at

Education Resources 

Begining April, 6 2020, instructional content will be available on all Tennessee PBS stations

TDOE has partnered with Hoonuit to launch a school meal site finder for Tennessee families to find the closest meal pick up program available to them. 

Additional Resources

Information on COVID-19 from the American Academy of Pediatrics can be found here:

Tips for teaching kids about proper hand washing can be found here: