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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

A brief guide to the ongoing outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus

Novel Coronavirus Outbreak graphic. Center for Disease Control

If you have questions or concerns about Coronavirus or the COVID-19 disease, contact your healthcare provider, 311, or New York State's Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065

You can also text COVID to 692692 to sign up for text updates from NYC Notify.

What is the Coronavirus?

The "Novel Coronavirus" is a flu-like respiratory disease that originally broke out in China. It is part of the corona family of  viruses that get their names from the Latin word for crown because of their crown-like appearance

Similar outbreaks include the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) of 2012 and the SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) of 2002. Viruses and the illnesses they cause often have different names; the disease that Coronavirus causes is referred to as COVID-19.

As of March 11, the World Health Organization declared the situation a pandemic. Pandemics are declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world.

What areas are being affected?

As previously stated, the virus originally broke out in Wuhan, China in late 2019, and is believed to be linked to a seafood and live animal market. It has since spread throughout the globe with the highest numbers currently being in China, Italy, and Iran, with South Korea and a handful of European countries close behind. As of March 12, The United States is at 1,701 confirmed cases, 325 being in New York State and 95 of them in New York City.

How does it spread and what are the symptoms?

COVID-19 is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. These types of viruses can remain infectious on surfaces at room temperature for up to 9 days.Luckily, the virus doesn't spread through the air very far, and people are advised to stay at least six feet away from anyone who may be infected.


Illustration of coronavirus from the CDC

Am I at risk?

The most at-risk segments of the population are primarily older adults and the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems such as those with chronic illnesses like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, etc. 

It is a respiratory illness and therefore causes symptoms that are flu-like in nature, including fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing and/or shortness of breath. 


What can I do?

In addition to washing your hands often and staying home if you become ill, another way to stay safe is to keep yourself informed of this rapidly evolving situation. On this guide there are links to sources for the most up-to-date information, including NYC and CUNY specific updates. See the CDC's Prevention & Treatment page for more info on ways to protect yourself and those around you.

This guide will be updated throughout the coming days, weeks, and months as the story develops and studies emerge. Please see below for links to general information on the virus and the status of the epidemic, and check out the tabs to the right for more in depth info.