Curious kids

Does your kid have questions about the coronavirus? The science writers at the Los Angeles Times have some answers for them.

Children are curious, and parents are being flooded with questions. Why does the coronavirus make grandparents very sick but kids not so much? How did it come here? When will there be a cure?

Science writers have put together answers to kids’ biggest questions surrounding the coronavirus:

How did the first people get coronavirus? — Olive, 7

Scientists are still trying to figure that out but they think the virus may have started in bats then moved to another animal called a pangolin, which looks like a scaly anteater. Some of the first people who got the virus worked at a giant food market in China that sells different kinds of meat. It’s possible the virus moved from an animal to a human at that market, but scientists don’t know for sure yet.

How did it get here? — Lesley, 9

The new coronavirus probably first entered the United States when somebody who didn’t realize they had it flew here from China, probably sometime in January.

Should I be scared? Because it seems like a lot of people are freaking out. — Zev, 9

We know that it doesn’t seem to get kids that sick, which is a big relief. But it can make older people sick. We all have the power to protect the older people in our communities by washing our hands a lot, coughing and sneezing into our elbows and definitely staying away from other people if we’re feeling sic.

Why do kids not get coronavirus as much as grownups? — Eli, 5

Scientists aren’t sure but they have some theories. One idea is kids’ immune systems are not as fully developed. The immune system is part of your body that’s constantly on the lookout for invaders like viruses. When it finds them, it works really hard to get rid of them. A fever is one way a body fights back against the virus. In adults, the immune system sometimes works so hard it hurts the body, too. Because kids’ immune systems aren’t as powerful, they can’t do as much damage.

What does it feel like for a kid to get coronavirus? — Townes, 11

We don’t know! Scientists think many children get cases so mild they never even know that they’re sick. Many other will feel about the same as if they had a winter cold, and a small number will get sick enough that they need to see a doctor. Children who are the sickest may develop pneumonia, a lung infection that can make it feel hard to breathe.

How long do you think school is out for? — Isabella, 12

This is a difficult question to answer. Estimates range from six to eight weeks all the way to the end of the academic year. Right now, we don’t know enough to say for sure.

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