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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, as well as tips on what you can do to protect yourself.

What Are My Chances of Getting Sick?

Compared with adults, not many 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 feel a bit like they have a cold or the flu.

How Can I Protect Myself?

As with other viruses, the best ways to protect yourself and your family are:

  • Try not to be around people who are sick.
  • Try to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from someone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands well and often. Wash your hands before touching food, after you use the toilet, after blowing your nose, and when you come home after school or after you've been outside. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow, then wash your hands.

What Should I Do if I Start Feeling Sick?

Just like you normally do, tell your mom, dad, or another adult when you don't feel well. At school, let a teacher know. 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.

There are lots of colds and flu still going around. So if you do feel sick, it's most likely to be a cold or the flu.

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 get the care that is needed.

Will My Pets Get This Coronavirus?

Experts don't know if cats, dogs, and other pets can catch the virus. Just to be safe, people who are sick shouldn't pet, snuggle, or kiss their pets. 

If you are not sick, you can spend time with your pet. But pets can carry some diseases so it's always a good idea to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after petting or playing with pets.

What Else Can I Do?

Doctors, nurses, and people who are trained to handle emergencies have been preparing for a disease like COVID-19. Your school also will have plans to stop the spread of the virus. But fighting a virus is a team effort. You can do your part. 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 in 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 more safe and 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 making sure everything is kept 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. When you know how much protection your immune system provides, 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: March 2020