‘It’s not connected to the beer’: RI health director answers kids’ questions about coronavirus


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Wash your hands, keep your distance and wear a cloth mask.

Those are the three key pieces of advice Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott hammered home while answering Rhode Island kids’ questions about the coronavirus pandemic Monday afternoon.

Last week, Gov. Gina Raimondo used one of her daily press briefings to answer kids’ questions but said she wasn’t qualified enough to answer the scientific ones. Alexander-Scott, the director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, answered all of the science-based questions on the coronavirus during a Facebook Live on Raimondo’s page.

Alexander-Scott repeatedly stressed the importance of hand-washing and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. She also encouraged kids to wear face coverings to protect themselves and others.

“As long as it has someone it can get close to and there are symptoms that can spread from one person to another — the coronavirus is trying to do it,” Alexander-Scott explained, adding that the virus doesn’t pick favorites and can infect anyone.

She also took the time to explain the importance of vaccines and why everyone needs to get the coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available.

“This specific novel coronavirus will be around until we can get a vaccine and that vaccine will be able to prevent people from getting it, but that’s only if everybody gets the vaccine,” she said when one child asked her if the coronavirus would be around forever.

Alexander-Scott was also asked how she’s personally been affected by the virus. She said she has “many, many, many” relatives in New York City, one of the epicenters of the outbreak in the United States.

She said because of this, she’s had to manage her own stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.

“I too often just have to take a breath and count to 10, or say a prayer, or think something positive to put something negative out of my mind,” she said. “It is so normal for this to be stressful for people or for people to be anxious about this.”

One child asked if the coronavirus would go away during the warmer months. Alexander-Scott said they aren’t counting on it and are ensuring that the state is ready for whatever the virus throws their way.

“I would love for that to be the case but we are not counting on that happen,” she said. “We know it has existed in other countries that have warmer weather than we do.”

When asked how the coronavirus got its name, Alexander-Scott candidly made an important distinction.

“This is not connected to the beer,” Alexander-Scott said. “The virus has been around for way longer than the drink.”

Instead, she said the coronavirus has always been around, but the one at the center of the pandemic is a “novel,” or new, strain that has never been seen before.

Coronavirus: Coverage and Resources

COVID-19 Tracking: Maps, Charts, Interactive Data | Projection Models | Find a Testing Site Near You | School Updates | Latest Headlines

RI Coronavirus Hotline: (401) 222-8022 | Work-Related Questions: (401) 462-2020 | Mental Health Assistance: (401) 414-5465

Coronavirus: Latest Headlines

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