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It’s illegal to treat a minor without parental consent in the U.S.
Even as hospitals are limiting visitors, minors will always be allowed to have one guardian present.
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and how long the pandemic will last, but parents across the U.S. can be certain that they will always be able to accompany their children to the hospital.
A recent Facebook post claimed that "if your child gets this virus their (sic) going to hospital alone in a van with people they don’t know... to be with people they don’t know." This run-on sentence ended with a soul-crushing statement: "you will be at home without them in their time of need."
Before any parents get too worried, this claim is entirely untrue because hospitals need parental consent to treat minors. Dr. John Gilliam explained in an interview with PolitiFact that "minors can’t consent to treatment, legally." Dr. Gilliam works in Oregon as a hospitalist, an in-patient physician who works exclusively in a hospital.
Parental consent is still a requirement in New York hospitals, where the virus is spreading rapidly and the New York State Department of Health is introducing temporary new visitor policies. The University of Rochester Medical Center and the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital have both announced that recovering adults aren’t allowed any visitors, but children are still allowed to have one guardian accompany them.
If your child does have COVID-19 symptoms, the CDC first recommends to not take them to the hospital unless they develop emergency warning signs, such as having trouble breathing or experiencing persistent pain or pressure in the chest. The CDC has published guidelines for treating healthy adults and children with COVID-19 symptoms at home. The CDC also doesn’t consider children a high-risk group for COVID-19 and have found that children who have been confirmed to have the virus "have generally presented with mild symptoms."
In the unlikely event that a child is hospitalized for complications from COVID-19, they will have a parent or another guardian by their side. We rate this Facebook post Pants on Fire.
Facebook post, March 25, 2020
The New York State Department of Health, New Visitor Policy to Reduce the Spread of Coronavirus, March 15, 2020
University of Rochester Medical Center, Coming to the Hospital - Coronavirus, visited on March 31, 2020
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, COVID-19 General Visitation Guidelines & Visitor Policy Changes, March 29, 2020
CDC, COVID19 - Caring for someone at home, March 18, 2020
CDC, COVID19 - FAQs, March 28, 2019
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