The whole world is fighting a very bad virus now and so anyone who even gets near someone who has it or works someplace where two people have the virus they must stay at home, not go out or have anyone come to their house. My Bubie teaches at a school where two teachers got the virus and so everyone in the school was put in what we call, Bidud Bayit, or home quarantine. I don’t really understand about viruses and I was really curious about what Bubie can and cannot do in Bidud, so the following story helped me to understand.
“Bubie’s in Bidud, Bubie’s in Bidud!” Sura yelled over the phone to all of her siblings. She had just called Bubie and Zada before Shabbat to wish them a Good Shabbos and to ask Bubie if they could go shopping this week for shoes for Pesach. “Well”, said Bubie, “we will have to see because I am in Bidud”.
Sura knew about the Corona virus that was all over the world because her brother had heard about it from Cheder from his Rebbe. She also knew that people who got it had to stay away from other people and be in Bidud (quarantine or isolation). So at first she got scared because, if Bubie was in Bidud that meant that she was sick and that thought was scary to Sura. So, after she announced to all of the other kids that Bubie was in Bidud, she got back on the phone and asked her why she was in Bidud and was Zada in Bidud too and what did it really mean to be in Bidud.
“Well”, Bubie said, “Thank God I am not sick, but since I work at a school where two people have the virus the doctors want to make sure that no one else gets the virus so they asked us to stay at home for two weeks. If, after two weeks we feel good, then we can go out again. But, because the virus is still spreading all over the world, we still may not be able to visit our children, grandchildren and friends.”
“But Bubie”, Sura asked, “is Zada also in Bidud?” “No, Zada is not in Bidud but I have to be careful not to get too close to Zada. So, I am sleeping in a different room, working in my office alone and I use a different bathroom from Zada. Also, when Zada and I eat we sit away from each other at the table, but we can still see each other and talk to each other”.
“But Bubie, what can you do in Bidud, are you angry, are you sad, are you scared?” “There are many things I can do in Bidud and I am writing a book for you about what it is like in Bidud with some pictures. I am not angry or sad or scared. It is a little hard for me because you know that Bubie likes to swim every day and you cannot swim in Bidud, but there are other exercises that you can do in Bidud.
“Bubie, how does Bidud help stop the virus? I don’t understand why you have to be in Bidud if you are not sick!”
“We know that the virus can easily go from one person to another person so we need to stay two meters away from another person. The virus doesn’t have legs, so it can’t jump, but if someone who has it sneezes or coughs then it can get into another person through their eyes, nose or mouth. That is why we are also asked to wear a mask over our nose and mouth if we go outside.”
“Once the virus gets inside your body it likes to go to your lungs and then it begins to multiply, or make more and more copies of itself. It begins to fill up your lungs and make it hard to breathe. For some people, usually young healthy people, the body fights the virus and the young and healthy people usually get better and may not even have to go to the hospital. But, when they are sick, they cannot go outside because they could pass the virus to other people.”
“But if everyone who gets it will get better, Bubie, why can’t they go out after they feel better?” asked Sura.
“Well, Sura,” answered Bubie, “that is the problem. Not everyone who gets this virus gets better and some people, usually people who have other health problems, or Bubies and Zadies can’t fight the virus so well. When it makes lots of copies of itself in their lungs they have a really hard time breathing and they usually have to go to a hospital where they put a tube into their lungs, from their mouth, to help them to breathe. If their body can’t get the virus to stop making copies of itself and filling up their lungs, then the lungs don’t work. If you can’t breathe well then your body doesn’t get enough air, or what we call oxygen, and the rest of your body can get very sick too.”
“Could you die Bubie?” asked Sura in a very soft voice. “Yes honey, this is a very bad virus and you could die if you get it, but mostly it is very dangerous for Bubbies and Zadies.”
“When I get out of Bidud, if the virus is still here, then Zada and I and all of the Bubies and Zadies in the whole world will not be able to see their children, grandchildren and friends, until the virus goes away.”
“How long will that take?” asked Sura.
“It could take some time. No one really knows for sure. We hope that by the summer, when the weather gets warm it will go away and by next year, if it comes back, we will have a vaccine that will protect us from getting it.”
“But Bubie, asked Sura, "how does a vaccine protect us from the virus and why don’t they just give you one now so that we will be able to see you for Pesach?”
“It takes a long time, sometimes two years, before scientists and doctors can make a medicine that they put into a needle and put into our skin to protect us from catching a virus. It is hard work, because each virus is different and you have to know what will kill it or make it so mild that a person’s body can fight it by itself if it comes into your body. Also, viruses are so small that you cannot see them with your eyes, even with strong glasses! You need an instrument, called a microscope, that makes things much bigger than any glasses people could wear.”
“The scientists work in laboratories with special equipment, trying all kinds of ways to kill the virus. After they think they have a good medicine, vaccines, then they have to try it out, first on animals. If the animals get better and not sicker, then they have to decide which group of people to try the vaccine on. They have to be very careful because you don’t want to give someone a vaccine that gets them sick. This is why it usually takes two years before there is a safe vaccine to give to all of the people.”
“Vaccines help the body to fight a bad virus when it enters your body so, sometimes you don’t even feel the virus because your body destroys it before it can cause you any harm. This is why Bubie and Zada take the vaccines and why we gave the vaccines to your Tatti and your Uncle when they were children. But all the time there are new viruses in the world. Many of them don’t hurt us too badly, like a cold virus, but others, like the Corona, can cause a lot of people to get very sick.”
“Until we have a vaccine everybody can help stop the spread of the virus by, washing your hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom, before preparing and eating food and when you come home from being outside. This virus hates soap and water and it causes it to break apart and melt away!”
“I decided to write a book for all of the grandchildren whose Bubies and Zadies are in Bidud and cannot see their grandchildren now. It is very hard for us not to be with our grandchildren. I would never imagine that all of the Bubies and Zadies would be alone for Pesach, without their children and grandchildren! But, God willing, when the Corona goes away, we will have a big party and we will celebrate being together again, to play, to hug and to kiss our grandchildren. We hope this time will pass quickly but for now, we must be strong and know that to protect our health, we must not be together. Remember that Zada and I love you and your brother and sisters, even though we cannot see you in person. Our love is as strong as ever and it will ALWAYS be with you!”
Here are some good sites for children to learn about viruses.