CNN partnered with Sesame Street for a special town hall about coronavirus to give kids the opportunity to learn more about the pandemic and ask questions.
“The ABC’s of Covid 19: A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Parents” aired on Saturday morning and tackled issues including education, anxiety, screen time and play dates.
The 90-minute program featured experts and Sesame Street characters – including Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Rosita and Grover. Together, they answered questions submitted by families.
The event was moderated by CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN anchor and national correspondent Erica Hill, and, of course, Big Bird.
Here are some of the best moments:
Big Bird wonders if Covid-19 is just a bunch of letters and numbers
For kids hearing their parents talk about Covid-19 and coronavirus, it can all sound pretty confusing. Why is there a number? Do they mean the same thing?
“Those letters and numbers reference something that’s making people sick,” Hill explained to Big Bird. “You may have also heard it called the coronavirus.”
Gupta added that the coronavirus is now considered a pandemic, meaning it has spread to large numbers of people around the world. But there’s no reason to panic: Scientists, doctors, and nurses all over the world are working hard to help.
And luckily, adults, children and Muppets can all do their part to help protect each other.
Lucy and Julian ask if they can get the virus from swimming
With summer on its way, everyone is itching to take a dip in the pool or swim in the ocean. But what about the coronavirus?
Lucy, a 7-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia, and 9-year-old Julian from Kiev, Ukraine, are curious if people can get the virus from the water.
“This new coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is not spread through water, so you’re not going to get it from swimming in the pool or swimming in the ocean,” emergency room physician Dr. Leana Wen said.
“The problem though, is if there are other people around you at the pool or other people very close to you in the ocean, you can get the new coronavirus from them.”
Wen added that if you want to swim in a pool in your backyard, there’s nothing to worry about.
Abby’s friend wants to know what coronavirus looks like
Abby Cadabby’s friend James wanted to know what the virus looks like.
“You can’t see it, it’s invisible, it’s so tiny really, but if you look under a microscope it might look something like this,” Gupta said, holding up a big red ball with a crown on top.
“And these are the little proteins on top of the crown,” he added, pointing to the points.
The term “corona,” which is from a Latin root meaning crown or ring of light, refers to the shape of the virus under a microscope.
These kids want to know if eating soap helps
Twins Bryce and Brody, 6, from Sands Point, New York, asked why soap won’t kill the virus if ingested.
“I hope that the twins and everybody who’s watching will help us to spread that message,” Wen said. “Do not drink soap, or detergent, or bleach or anything that you and your parents use to clean your house. Don’t do that.”
The ER doctor said she has seen children hospitalized after getting very sick from drinking those products, which are made up of extremely dangerous chemicals.
However, Wen did emphasize the importance of washing your hands with soap to kill the tiny virus. Health officials say people should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, which you can count by singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Grover’s buddy wants to know if coronavirus can live in space
Grover’s friend Sam, from Chappaqua, New York, asked a question that was out of this world. Can the coronavirus exist in space?
“The virus can’t really exist in outer space,” Gupta answered. “The coronavirus has to have a home, so it usually lives in animals or lives in humans and we can’t live in outer space unless we have special machines and stuff like that so just by itself, the virus can’t live up there.”
Wen added that the only way the virus could be in space is if an astronaut who has the virus brings it to space.
Elmo asks why people are wearing masks if it’s not Halloween
People all over the world are wearing masks when they go outside. But there are many months to go before Halloween comes around, so why?
“Just like doctors wear masks at hospitals when they take care of people, you’re going to see people now wearing masks outside as well,” Gupta said. “The reason they’re wearing masking like this is to protect people in public from their germs.”
Gupta also taught Elmo how to make his own mask using a bandana and two big hair ties while telling him about other safety precautions people should take if they need to go outside.
Anyone over 2 years old should wear a mask if they need to go out in public and are around other people. They should also practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away – the length of a pool noodle – from other people.
Abby talks about big feelings and the importance of self hugs
It’s a very scary time, and kids are experiencing big feelings, like sadness and fear for friends and family.
But Abby has a way to help. When she’s feeling emotional, Abby gives herself a hug to make herself feel better.
“It’s okay to have these big feelings,” said Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content at Sesame Workshop. “We need to validate these big feelings and to label them. More importantly, we need to have strategies for how to manage these feelings and to help us all cope.”
While Rosita shared a fun breathing exercise to help calm nerves, Gupta said he encourages his own children to write down their feelings.
People should also remember to be kind to others and never bully or blame people for what is happening. No matter what a person looks like, the color of their skin, or the language they speak, Muppets and humans deserve kindness.