Skip to Main Content

COVID-19 Resources

Latest Guidelines, Reviews, Resources by Topic, Dashboards, Analytics, Maps, and Research.

What we know about COVID-19

According to MedlinePlus, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which used to be called the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is a new type of coronavirus. It causes respiratory illness in people. It was first identified in Wuhan, China.

COVID-19 can spread from person to person. This usually happens through respiratory droplets - when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes, and you breathe it in. Most often, you need to be close to the person (within 6 feet) for it to spread this way. It might be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes. But this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

People who have been in close contact with someone who is infected are at higher risk. This includes health care workers who care for people with COVID-19.

COVID-19 can cause respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe or even deadly. The symptoms usually start between 2 to 14 days after you get infected.

Symptoms of Covid19



Is it COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the name for the disease people experience is coronavirus disease or COVID-19 and the virus itself is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2.  HIV & AIDS are an example of a virus and the disease it causes.

  • Viruses are assigned names based on their genetic structure and there is a specific taxonomy (from International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses) for names.  Using the viruses structure helps researchers in developing tests, vaccines, and medicines.
  • Diseases are names by the WHO and are then in the International Classification of Diseases. The disease is given a specific name that will "enable discussion on the disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment."
  • On February 11, 2020, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was announced as the official name of the new virus.  Its name was based on its genetic similarity to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003.  However, while genetically related, the two viruses are different.
  • On February 11, 2020, COVID-19 became the official name of this new disease.  
  • You might be wondering why the virus name is not usually used in talking about this. It is partly to avoid unnecessary fear for those populations that were greatly impacted by the 2003 SARS outbreak.  


image of the SARS-CoV-2 virus exiting a cell

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Credit: NIAID-RML