By Erin Reardon and Nicole Theis-Mahon
COVID-19 is an acute respiratory disease caused by a novel, or new, coronavirus first identified December 2019 in Wuhan, in China’s Hubei Province. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the official name of COVID-19 on February 11, 2020.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which commonly cause mild upper respiratory tract illnesses. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
COVID-19 spreads from person to person when someone sneezes, coughs, or breathes it in. The virus might also spread by touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.
You can prevent infection by handwashing and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
Since December 2019, COVID-19 has spread from China to other countries, including South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan. Cases of COVID-19 are also increasing in the United States.
While much of the media coverage of COVID-19 may seem worrisome, as of February 29, 2020, the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) states that the risk of someone getting COVID-19 in the United States is currently low. Travelers returning from affected areas may face a higher risk. Moreover, this is a changing and evolving situation. Up to date information is available from the CDC’s Situation Summary, which also includes travel information.
Take normal precautions to stay healthy, such as washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when you are sick. This will help prevent the spread of all contagious illnesses, including the cold, the flu, and COVID-19.
If you feel sick, the best thing to do is to talk to your doctor about your concerns.
Resources for research and understanding
U of MN Libraries resources
- COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) summary from DynaMed, an evidence-based health information resource. Provides general information, along with information on epidemiology, etiology, diagnosis, management, and prognosis.
- COVID-19 Resources and Tools from health publisher Wolters Kluwer/Ovid. Offers access to published articles on COVID-19.
- Coronavirus COVID-19 articles from the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database.
Trusted online health information
- Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Case visualization of virus cases, deaths, and recoveries by Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by the CDC.
- Coronavirus Infections (consumer Information) also in Spanish by the NIH National Library of Medicine.
Resources for the U of M campus
U of M research and expertise from Experts@UMN
- Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, Leader, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
- Marie R. Culhane, PhD, DVM, expert in viral disease transmission between animals and humans, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Susan E. Kline, MD, MPH, Interim Director, Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine
About the Authors
Erin Reardon, MFA, MLIS, is a Medical School Librarian.
Nicole Theis-Mahon, MLIS, AHIP, is the Collection Coordinator for the Health Sciences Libraries and Dentistry Librarian.
Online health information should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content in this article is for general information only.
Talk to your doctor about information you read online and how it relates to your health plan. Boynton Health clinics are open to U of MN faculty, staff, and students.