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Coronavirus: What Kids Can Do

Reviewed by: Karen A. Ravin, MD

You probably heard about the coronavirus that is making people sick. What does it mean for you? Here are some answers from a doctor, plus tips on how to protect yourself and help prevent the virus from spreading.

What Are My Chances of Getting Sick?

Many more adults than kids have become sick with COVID-19 (that's what doctors are calling this new sickness). And if kids do catch the virus, they don't seem to get as sick as grownups do. Doctors are still working to learn why. Kids with COVID-19 can feel a bit like they have a cold or the flu.

How Can I Protect Myself and Other People?

Talk to your parents about what health officials are saying to do. In most places, they're telling people to stay home and practice social distancing. Social distancing puts space between people so they can't pass the virus to each other.

Social distancing means:

  • not going to school
  • not getting together with people who don't live with you
  • not going to restaurants, stores, or the movies
  • only going to the grocery store or drugstore when needed
  • not taking buses, subways, or taxis
  • grownups work from home

At all times:

  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow, and then wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands well and often. Wash your hands before touching food, after using the toilet, and after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

If you do need to go out:

  • Wear a cloth face mask or covering, if possible.
  • Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from other people.
  • Wash your hands well when you get home.

What Should I Do if I Start Feeling Sick?

Like you normally do, tell your mom, dad, or another adult when you don't feel well. Say what hurts — for example, if you have a headache, sore throat, or you feel hot and sweaty.

Your mom or dad can call the doctor and make sure you get the right care. The doctor may tell you to rest at home. Or they may have you come to the office or do a video visit.

What if My Mom, Dad, or Grandparent Gets Coronavirus?

It's normal to worry about family members. Even adults are not likely to die from the virus, though some people can get pretty sick.

The best thing to do if someone in your family gets sick is to have an adult call a doctor. The doctor can help them get the care they need.

Will My Pets Get This Coronavirus?

Pets might be able to catch the virus. To be safe, people who are sick shouldn't pet, snuggle, or kiss their pets.

If your pet is sick, your parent should call the vet for advice on what to do.

What Else Can I Do?

Doctors, nurses, and people who are trained to handle emergencies have been preparing for a disease like COVID-19. But fighting a virus is a team effort. You can do your part. Along with social distancing, here are some ways to be prepared.

Talk to your parents.

Do you have questions about the virus? Ideas on ways your family can prepare? Are you feeling a bit worried? It's always good to share your thoughts and feelings with a parent or another trusted adult. It's OK to ask questions and wonder about why this happened or if it might happen to you.

Know where to get the right answers.

Information travels fast. Not everything you see online is right. It can be hard to know what's fact and what's fake. If you have questions, ask your parents or a science teacher from your school.

Spending too much time listening to news isn't good for kids or grownups. Remind your mom and dad about this too!

Help out.

Knowing your family has a plan can help you feel safer and more secure. Grownups are in charge of these plans, but you can ask your parents if there's something you can do. They might put you in charge of some tasks around the house, like helping to keep things clean.

Take charge of your health.

Knowledge is power, so arm yourself with answers. It can help to understand what viruses are and how to take a stand against germs. It also helps to learn about the body's immune system. Your immune system provides a lot of protection. Give it a boost by getting plenty of sleep, exercise, and healthy food.

Do things that make you feel good — go outside, read a book, make a craft. Be creative. Doing things like drawing, writing, or making music can help you feel good and relax.

Reviewed by: Karen A. Ravin, MD
Date reviewed: April 2020