Cincinnati Children's offers answers to frequent questions about COVID-19.

Note: The guidance for specific situations listed below could change as the COVID-19 situation evolves. We will update guidance as needed. Check back here for any changes.

Every person at Cincinnati Children’s is required to wear a mask while at the medical center. Do families need to wear masks when they are at Cincinnati Children’s?

Yes, every person at Cincinnati Children’s is required to wear a mask while at the medical center. Although more people are getting vaccinated, we still need to keep our guard up against COVID-19. Put on your mask when you exit your vehicle.  

> See details about mask requirements.

Is a telehealth appointment OK to schedule instead of an in-person visit?

Yes! Most clinics and departments are scheduling both in-person and telehealth visits. If the person scheduling your appointment offers telehealth or suggests that it’s the preferred visit type for your child, you can say yes with confidence that it will be a safe and valuable appointment with your provider. Additionally, if you are not offered a telehealth visit but would prefer to connect with your provider using a video visit, you are always welcome to ask if it is an option for your family.

What precautions can I expect at Cincinnati Children’s to keep patients, families and visitors safe?

We want you to know that it is safe to come to Cincinnati Children’s. Learn about all the precautions we are taking to protect your child and your family while you are at the medical center.

Is Cincinnati Children’s testing for COVID-19 before surgical procedures?

Patients who have been vaccinated with all COVID-19 vaccine doses and are at least two weeks from their last dose will not require pre-procedure COVID-19 testing. Families will need to have their CDC vaccine card or a picture of the card available with all necessary information on the day of the procedure.

Unvaccinated patients must get a test within 96 hours of their procedure. We will contact you in advance to arrange testing based on your location.

Your child can be tested:

  • By Cincinnati Children’s at one of our testing sites.
  • By Cincinnati Children’s in your home. If you live in Ohio or Kentucky and within 25 miles of our Burnet Campus, you may qualify for home testing by our Home Care staff.
  • At a non-Cincinnati Children’s testing site. The test must be a molecular or PCR test. Antigen home test results are not accepted. You must bring a copy of the results on the day of the procedure. Orders for this testing would need to come from your child’s primary care provider.

If you can’t be tested in advance, we will perform the test the day of the procedure. If you are not contacted for testing prior to the day of surgery or cannot get tested close to your home, there is no need to let us know. Testing will be performed on the day of surgery.

If a patient is not experiencing symptoms, nasal swabbing is acceptable for pre-procedure COVID-19 testing. This method is less uncomfortable for the patient.

If a patient is experiencing symptoms, we will require nasopharyngeal COVID-19 testing even if the patient has been vaccinated.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19, your care provider will evaluate the safety and need to proceed or delay the procedure and discuss the plan with you.

Emergency surgeries will not be delayed for testing.

Families will not have any out-of-pocket financial responsibility for the testing before surgeries.

Are parents / guardians allowed to go with a patient to induction rooms prior to surgical procedures?

Parents and guardians are not currently allowed to go with their child to the induction room before entering the OR. If your child has experienced surgical procedures before and will expect you to be able to go back, please, if possible, prepare your child for it to be different this time.

Does Cincinnati Children’s support antibody tests to determine if patients or employees have been exposed to COVID-19?

Cincinnati Children’s labs can do “antibody” or “serology” tests that detect antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

These tests should not be used to diagnose acute COVID-19 infection. Using this type of test on many patients may help the medical community better understand how the immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus develops in patients over time and how many people may have been previously infected.

If you would like for your child to have one of these tests, talk to your primary care provider about next steps.

If your child is sick and you are concerned it could be COVID-19 infection, contact your child’s primary care provider or CincyKids Health Connect.

What should I do if I need to visit Cincinnati Children’s for urgent or emergency care?

If you are seeking care because you think your child may have COVID-19, call your primary care provider or connect with a Cincinnati Children’s provider through CincyKids Health Connect first. Most children who have the illness do not need emergency or urgent care.

Cincinnati Children’s emergency departments and urgent care locations are NOT available to do COVID-19 tests ONLY. All ED and urgent care visits will include a full assessment and will be charged based on the care completed.

If your child is experiencing trouble breathing, it is important to get to the Emergency Department as quickly as possible, no matter what. Make sure you let our ED staff know as soon as you walk in that your child has respiratory symptoms. If you know that your child has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, share that information with our staff right away too.

If you need urgent care or emergency care for a situation that is not related to respiratory illness, go to the location as quickly as is appropriate. Learn more about how to decide where to go.

If your child is sick or injured, do not delay care. It is safe to come to Cincinnati Children’s. We are taking every precaution to protect patient families while you are here.

Two healthy adults will be allowed to be with the patient in the ED or urgent care. Every family will be screened for symptoms upon arrival and provided a mask at the screening stations. Siblings and other children are not allowed to be in the hospital at all.

If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

> Cincinnati Children's offers two 24-hour emergency care facilities.

> See details about Cincinnati Children's urgent care centers.

Who should I call if I think my child is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?

If you are concerned that a child may have COVID-19, contact your child’s primary care provider first to discuss your concerns and next steps.

> Learn how to get started and see our testing locations.

If your child does not have a regular doctor or you need to talk to someone when your doctor isn’t available, you can use the CincyKids Health Connect app to talk to a Cincinnati Children’s provider about next steps. Providers will evaluate each patient using the video visit technology. They will screen for travel or contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and direct families to options for further evaluation.

Patients who have minor symptoms and do not meet testing criteria at the time of the visit will receive guidance from the provider for monitoring at home and instructions for follow-up, if needed.

COVID-19 screening video visits will be free of charge for families.

Is Cincinnati Children’s screening for COVID-19 symptoms at entrances?

Yes, to protect our patients, their families and our staff during the outbreak, Cincinnati Children’s is screening parents, visitors and employees every day. You will also be given a mask to wear while you are at the medical center. Screening happens at outpatient registration, screening stations or on inpatient units at our Burnet and Liberty campuses and neighborhood locations.

> Learn about screening details, the difference between screening and testing and whether your child can be tested at Cincinnati Children’s.

What is Cincinnati Children’s visitor policy?

Current visitor policy for all locations and campuses is:

  • Inpatients are allowed two healthy adult visitors – including parents. These two people will have 24-hour access to the patient area. Two additional adult visitors can see your child during visiting hours (8:30am–8:30pm).
  • Outpatients are allowed two healthy adults with them during visits.
  • Siblings and other children under 18 are not allowed to visit inpatients.
  • Siblings under 18 should only attend outpatient appointments if absolutely necessary. Do not delay care for a child because you do not have childcare for siblings. If you need to bring siblings to an appointment, please call ahead to let the clinic know.
  • Anyone who is with a patient must be free from fever, cough and colds, and stomach virus symptoms. If a single parent is with a child for an urgent visit (Emergency Department, Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute day hospital, dialysis) and does not pass the screening, the parent will be given a mask and allowed to go ahead to the urgent appointment.
  • Exceptions will be made for patients in end-of-life care on an individual basis.  

> Go to our Visiting Guidelines page for details.