Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this novel (new) coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
The virus is thought to be transmitted from person-to-person in close contact (about 6 feet). The virus may be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and produces respiratory droplets that infect a nearby person. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic; however, some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.
If you are experiencing symptoms, you should contact your medical provider or your university health center, if applicable.
At this time, there is no vaccine that prevents COVID-19 infection. You can reduce your risk of contracting respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, by taking the following precautions:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Respectful nods and smiles should replace handshakes and hugs.
- Talk to your medical provider about getting an influenza vaccine. While the influenza vaccine does not protect against coronavirus infection, it can help keep you healthy during the flu season. Flu activity has been high in the United States this year. Currently, your risk of getting the flu is much greater than your risk of contracting COVID-19.