With the holidays fast approaching and COVID-19 surging in most parts of the country, millions of Americans will break with tradition this year to celebrate in ways that we hope will help keep us all safe and healthy. Here is one way we can help explain COVID-19 to those that do not understand the dangers during the holiday season.

When a plant grows from a seed, it knows how to grow because of little pockets of information inside the cells.  These little pockets have tons of information, like a cloud based Wikipedia.  The pockets of information teach the plant cell what to do.  These microscopic libraries are genetic material and it is the genetic material that allows the cells to talk to each other so it can mature. The plant can grow up and live a happy life because of the information it passes on from one cell to another.

Everything alive grows up based on these pockets of microscopic libraries telling the cells what to do.  Everything living is living because of these microscopic biological processes. Oysters, ants, mushrooms, humans, turtles, kittens, bacteria, and viruses require genetic material to live.  Inside every cell, these little pockets of library books actually look like a tiny twirling staircase.  Picture a staircase that is circular with a handrail on each side.  Each stair and step aligns perfectly with each individual handrail, twisting upward like red licorice. 

In science, this perfectly patterned and precise twisting microscopic library staircase is known as DNA.  It is a very stable structure because it is built carefully one step at a time.  When a DNA molecule forms, it ensures that every stair and handrail is perfectly matched. There are patterns to the stairs and its handrails and it takes time and care to match them perfectly. That is why DNA is so stable, it has a system in place that double checks every step.

Bacteria and viruses also have little pockets of information, but some have different types of libraries. Rather than cells with DNA, they have cells with RNA. RNA is like DNA except it has no added handrail and matching step. Viruses made with RNA are very unstable. Covid-19 is an RNA virus.

The problem is RNA grabs all kinds of other library books and stuff that it is not meant to. It is so unstable that it changes all the time depending on what microscopic library books (or genetic material) it grabs. So, it adapts (or mutates) and can act differently in different situations. RNA with its broken staircase formation is why Covid-19 is so adaptable and easily spread. For some people who catch Covid-19 they sneeze and cough. Other people get headaches, others feel weak, some have trouble breathing or feel pain. Some people even break out in rashes.

COVID-19 is a virus with RNA genetic material. It can mutate and live a long time unless we stop it now.


This holiday season, stay safe and consider the following when planning your events and gatherings:

  • Limit the number of attendees
  • Host outdoor rather than indoor
  • Avoid holding gatherings in crowded spaces. Increase ventilation by opening windows or turning the AC/Heat on to continuous circulation.
  • Keep physical distance from each other and encourage guests to wash hands

However you may celebrate, have a safe and healthy holiday season!

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