DAVID GREENE, HOST:
For children, the last eight months have been, well, a lot of things - maybe fun at first, when school closing felt like a snow day. But for many, that fun turned to anxiety, maybe even some fear. Back in February, we aired a story that was made just for kids. We wanted to explain the coronavirus and help them manage all those feelings. Well, now, with so much of our world changed, here's NPR's Cory Turner with an update.
CORY TURNER, BYLINE: Dear kids, the last time we talked, I told you to wash your hands and if you wipe a booger on something, well, that's just gross. I'm here again because a lot has changed. So let's start with a little science lesson from a grown-up who is super smart about the coronavirus. I asked him to talk directly to you.
ASHISH JHA: My name is Ashish Jha. I'm a doctor, and I'm a public health - sorry (laughter). This is actually harder than I thought (laughter). What's a good way to describe me?
TURNER: Dr. Jha says one of the biggest things we've learned about the coronavirus and kids is actually good news.
JHA: Kids generally don't get very sick from this virus.
TURNER: For most kids, he says, it's almost like a cold. And we've all had one of those. But you still need to make sure you don't spread it. And scientists know now that washing your hands is important, but maybe the most important thing we can do is wear a mask.
JHA: When you talk, when you breathe, when you cough, basically the air that comes out of your mouth can have the virus in it.
TURNER: See; your mouth works kind of like a can of bug spray. Now, imagine what happens if you put a mask over it.
JHA: Sort of a funny idea, putting a mask on a bug spray - but if you did, then the amount of bug spray somebody else would get is very, very tiny.
TURNER: So we wear masks to protect others. You know who else wears a mask and protects others? Superheroes.
ROSEMARIE TRUGLIO: I know you're doing a great job being superheroes, and I just want you to continue to do it.
TURNER: That is my friend Rosemarie Truglio. She lives near Sesame Street and works with Big Bird, Elmo and Grover. And she says when you remember to wear your mask...
TRUGLIO: You are playing such an important role in keeping others around you healthy.
TURNER: Although somebody really needs to tell Batman that his mask is covering the wrong half of his face.
TRUGLIO: That's covering his eyes, and we want to make sure we're covering the nose and the mouth. And sometimes the mask slips down, and we got to remember to lift it up to make sure the nose is also covered.
TURNER: Now I want to talk for a minute about your coronavirus feelings. Dr. Krystal Lewis works with kids, helping them with all kinds of worried feelings and thoughts, like...
KRYSTAL LEWIS: This is going to be forever. And I'm never going to get to see my friends, or I'm never going to get to see my family.
TURNER: When you have those worried thoughts, she says, one thing you can do is talk to yourself.
LEWIS: We might sometimes think that talking to yourself is kind of weird, but it really can help to improve your mood and sometimes reduce the anxiety or sadness that you have.
TURNER: So try telling yourself something good.
LEWIS: I know this won't last forever, or I can get through this. You might have to motivate yourself and say, you're doing a really good job.
TURNER: One of the hardest parts about all of this is if we're really being superheroes, we can't be as close to some of our friends and family. Well, another super smart helper who works with kids - her name is Tara Powell - she told me that she really misses hugs. So you know what she did? She bought a giant pillow.
TARA POWELL: Yeah (laughter). It's (unintelligible) 'cause I wasn't getting enough hugs. So I was like, I just need to hug.
TURNER: You can do the same thing with a stuffed animal. Or, she says, you can hug yourself.
POWELL: Two arms out, and then you fold them across. You put them on each shoulder blade as tight as you can, and then you can just shake back and forth and give that big, big hug you might need. And if you need it again, do it again.
TURNER: Didn't that feel better? Now, go be superheroes.
Cory Turner, NPR News.
GREENE: Thanks for that, Cory. There is a version of Cory's reporting online. It is illustrated just for kids at npr.org.
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