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COVID-19 Information

Overview and origins

A new respiratory virus called coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. It is part of a larger family of viruses called coronaviruses, some of which are in circulation normally and that cause illnesses like the common cold. It was initially given the name 2019 Novel Coronavirus, and in most published references, is called simply “coronavirus.”

This coronavirus, which has the scientific name SARS-CoV-2, may result in the respiratory disease that has been named COVID-19. In other words, SARS-CoV-2 is the virus; COVID-19 is the disease. In COVID-19, “CO” stands for corona, “VI” for virus, and ”D” for disease.

This Novel Coronavirus is not the same strain of coronavirus as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

COVID-19 origin and spread

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person to person, including between people who are physically near each other (within about 6 feet). People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. Cases of reinfection with COVID-19 have been reported but are rare. We are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes.

COVID-19 spreads very easily from person to person

How easily a virus spreads from person to person can vary. The virus that causes COVID-19 appears to spread more efficiently than influenza but not as efficiently as measles, which is among the most contagious viruses known to affect people.

COVID-19 most commonly spreads during close contact

  • People who are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person are at greatest risk of infection.
  • When people with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets. These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.
  • Infections occur mainly through exposure to respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
  • As the respiratory droplets travel further from the person with COVID-19, the concentration of these droplets decreases. Larger droplets fall out of the air due to gravity. Smaller droplets and particles spread apart in the air.
  • With passing time, the amount of infectious virus in respiratory droplets also decreases.

COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission

  • Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space.
  • This kind of spread is referred to as airborne transmission and is an important way that infections like tuberculosis, measles, and chicken pox are spread.
  • There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.
    • Under these circumstances, scientists believe that the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles produced by the people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people. The people who were infected were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left.
  • Available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission. [1]

COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces

  • Respiratory droplets can also land on surfaces and objects. It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads

COVID-19 rarely spreads between people and animals

  • It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations. CDC is aware of a small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Learn what you should do if you have pets.
  • At this time, the risk of COVID-19 spreading from animals to people is considered to be low. Learn about COVID-19 and pets and other animals.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can take steps to slow the spread.

Symptoms & Treatment

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms.

Students, staff and faculty who are ill—no matter what the cause—are strongly encouraged to stay home and to communicate by telephone/videophone or email to relevant parties (professors, supervisors, etc.) to let them know they are sick. If you live on the Gallaudet University campus and you are feeling ill, call the Student Health Service at (202) 651-5090 or email shs@gallaudet.edu for further direction.

Preventing COVID-19

Seeking medical care: Students
Students who have paid the health center fee and who feel ill may visit the Student Health Service. DO NOT WALK IN; it is imperative that you call the Student Health Service at 202-651-5090 or email shs@gallaudet.edu for further direction. This is for your own protection, the protection of other patients, and the protection of SHS staff.

Seeking medical care: Staff and faculty
Staff and faculty who feel ill should see their health care provider. It is important to contact your health care provider before going in, for your own protection, the protection of other patients, and the protection of your health care providers.

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