Editor’s note: This article was published on March 25, 2020. COVID-19 information and recommendations are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or view our most recent COVID-19 blog posts.
COVID-19 is a new term that is on most people’s minds in the midst of this pandemic. Recognizing that there may be many other new terms being used that you haven’t heard before, this list may be helpful to get your bearings.
The list starts with coronavirus and COVID-19:
Coronavirus: Coronaviruses, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), are respiratory illnesses. Coronavirus is a large family of viruses named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. Human coronaviruses, like SARS, were first identified in the mid-1960s.
COVID-19: This is the name of the novel coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In the abbreviation COVID-19, the “CO” stands for corona, the “VI” is for virus, the “D” is for disease and “19” refers to the year in which the virus was first detected.
Here are some other terms to know (in alphabetical order):
Community spread: This means spread of an illness in an area for which the source of infection is unknown.
Flattening the curve: Refers to community isolation measures to keep the spread and number of disease cases at a manageable level for health care facilities and providers.
Novel: A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously seen in humans, like COVID-19.
Pandemic: Refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.
Screening: Screening takes place when a person is without signs or symptoms. For COVID-19, this may include taking a person’s temperature and asking some specific questions.
Social distancing: This means that physical space between people is increased to avoid spreading illness. You can practice this by reducing contact with non-essential people outside your home. Learn more
Safer at home order vs Shelter-in-place: Gov. Tony Evers issued the “Safer at Home” order which means people simply stay at home to prevent the spread of a disease like COVID-19. This differs a bit from shelter-in-place, which means finding a safe location indoors and staying there until you are given an “all clear” or told to evacuate, such as during a tornado, according to Yale University.
Symptomatic: This simply means you are showing symptoms of a specific disease or illness. With COVID-19, you are symptomatic if you have a fever or temperature greater than 100 degrees, new cough (within the last day or two) or shortness of breath that is not due to allergies or a chronic condition.
Testing: Testing takes place when symptoms are present or to investigate something detected during a screening.
Have COVID-19 questions?
If you have general questions about COVID-19 and you do not have symptoms, please use Marshfield Clinic Health System patient COVID-19 Helpline at 877-998-0880 or Wisconsin’s toll-free helpline at 833-981-0711, or visit marshfieldclinic.org. You’ll find valuable information about COVID-19, tips for keeping your family healthy and more.
If you have a fever or temperature greater than 100 degrees, new cough (within the last day or two) or shortness of breath that is not due to allergies or a chronic condition, and you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please call the Health System Nurse Line at 1-844-342-6276 before visiting a doctor’s office, urgent care, hospital or emergency department.