Note that the COVID-19 situation has evolved rapidly and new information is released regularly by official sources. The information below is meant for general guidance only; please see the recommended additional resources for the most complete and up-to-date information.
Initially, the outbreak of a new respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, now also known as COVID-19, was first diagnosed in Wuhan, China during January, 2020. The disease now reaches well beyond China’s borders, involving 216 countries and has been declared a pandemic and health emergency by the World Health Organization.
This novel coronavirus is a new strain of virus in the coronavirus family that has not been previously seen in humans. There are other viruses in the coronavirus family (such as SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that can cause illness in both humans and animals. These viruses can cause either mild illness like a cold or can make people dangerously ill with pneumonia and organ failure, leading to death.
Since the virus is still very new, health authorities are constantly watching how it behaves. Although originally thought to spread from animal-to-person, person-to-person community transmission is now confirmed, spreading in the same manner as colds and flu. Risk for transmission is high.
Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The virus can also be spread by people who have no symptoms at all.
As of 6/23/20, 8,993,659 human infections have been confirmed internationally, with over 469,587 deaths. Incidence in the U.S. ranks number one worldwide; the total number of cases diagnosed thus far exceeds 2,268,753 cases, occurring in all states, with 119,761 deaths. These numbers continue to increase daily. Attempts to “re-open” in some states are being reversed.
There is no vaccine or definitively effective treatment available for this or other coronaviruses. Intensive research is progressing. Preventive measures would be similar to those for colds and flu, including handwashing, social distancing and face masks. Recommended preventive measures are described at the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/prevention.html
A diagnostic test to confirm the disease is currently more widely available. Defective tests initially, as well as a short supply limited the amount of cases that could be confirmed. Testing negative however does not mean that you may not develop the illness in the future or that you did not have it earlier. The accuracy of antibody tests, which can determine if a person has had the illness, has come under question, and, if positive does not necessarily mean that a person is immune; this aspect of the disease, and others are still being researched.
Additional resources for COVID-19information:
Graduate Center Community Resources:
- Local and national testing, support services and care providers
- Graduate Center News and Guidance
- CUNY News and Guidance