A new coronavirus, COVID-19, has been identified as the cause of a cluster of severe pneumonia cases that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. Since then, the virus has spread to many countries. More cases are being identified and confirmed daily, and there are numerous cases of medical workers contracting the virus.
While much has been learned about COVID-19, there is still a lot public health experts don’t know.
What is known:
- It is a coronavirus, which is a large family of viruses that can infect humans and/or animals. While COVID-19 is in the same family as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the fatality rate is lower for COVID-19 in comparison to these other viruses.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and/or symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as coughing or difficulty breathing. Emerging evidence suggests that many individuals with COVID-19 show no symptoms or only mild symptoms.
- Human-to-human transmission is confirmed. Asymptomatic people can transmit the virus.
What is unknown:
- With some viruses, the infectious period precedes symptoms and with other viruses it coincides with symptoms — we don’t know yet know about COVID-19.
- Whether the disease is transmitted via contact, droplet or aerosol.
Preventing the spread of the virus:
- COVID-19 is preventable and treatable, but only if we ensure working people are informed and protected.
- Basic wellness practices like frequent handwashing and staying home if we’re sick can help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Working people across the country, including people on the front lines of our healthcare system, schools and airport workers, face an increased risk of exposure to illness.
- Employers must have contingency plans should working people see their workplaces closed or their hours scaled back if this health emergency grows.
- Paid sick time allows people to prioritize their health and their family’s health. As this moment demonstrates, paid time off is a crucial public health necessity that prevents the spread of any illness. Far too many working people across the country do not have paid sick leave and must forfeit wages in order to take time off.For the latest information please also check the Center for Disease Control Website
For the most up-to-date information:
World Health Organization (WHO) Situation Reports:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Novel Coronavirus:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Interim Guidance for Healthcare Workers:
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control COVID-19 cases geographical distribution: