Health Alert: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Glossary

Commonly Used Terms

 at-risk population
According to the CDC, older people and people of all ages with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms.

Please review the CDC's recommended actions for at-risk individuals.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC
The national health protection agency of the US.

contact tracing
Investigating the past movements and interactions of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. This tracing allows health officials to identify and notify people who may have had close contact with the infected person while they were contagious. These contacts may be asked to self-monitor for symptoms and/or self-isolate for a period of time. (see self-isolate, self-monitor, symptoms)

coronavirus
A family of viruses characterized by their spherical shape and spiky, crown-like surface. Coronaviruses are commonplace and typically non–life-threatening (the common cold is caused by a type of coronavirus). The virus that causes COVID-19 is sometimes referred to as "the novel coronavirus" or "the coronavirus". (see COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, virus)

COVID-19
The abbreviation for coronavirus disease 2019, the disease that first appeared in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, which is sometimes referred to as "the novel coronavirus" or "the coronavirus". (see coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, virus)

difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
Difficulty breathing is a severe symptom of COVID-19. It is considered to be an emergency warning sign requiring immediate medical care. If you are feeling ill, please seek medical care right away. Go to the emergency room at UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000) or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500). Call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. (see emergency warning signs, symptoms)

emergency warning signs
Severe symptoms of COVID-19 that require urgent medical attention. Emergency warning signs listed by the CDC are: 

  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • persistent chest pain or chest pressure
  • new confusion
  • inability to wake or stay awake
  • bluish lips or face

If you are feeling ill, please seek medical care right away. Go to the emergency room at UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000) or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500). Call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. (see difficulty breathing, symptoms)

face covering
The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public places as a measure to prevent COVID-19. Please review CDC recommendations for the use of cloth face coverings. (see prevention)

handwashing, hand hygiene
Washing or sanitizing your hands frequently is recommended by the CDC as a preventive measure for COVID-19. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, or sanitize your hands using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. (see prevention)

isolate (v.), isolation (n.)
Separating people known to be infected with a disease from healthy people.

pandemic
Sudden, unexpected, worldwide spread of a disease. Characterized by sustained, community spread—a large number of new cases that can’t be traced to travel or exposure to a traveler. This term describes the spread of a disease, and has no bearing on its severity or mortality rate. The WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on March 11, 2020. (see case severity, community spread, sustained spread, mortality rate)

personal protective equipment, PPE
Equipment such as N95 respirators, face shields or goggles, isolation gowns, and sterile gloves used in health care settings to protect medical professionals and prevent the spread of disease. (see prevention)

prevention
According to the CDC, the best way to prevent becoming sick with COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. Individuals should practice social distancing, avoid touching their face as much as possible, avoid close contact with those who are sick, and stay home from work if they are feeling sick. Wearing a face covering in public and frequent handwashing are advised. At-risk populations may also want to take further preparations. (see at-risk population, face covering, handwashing, social distancing)

self-isolate (v.), self-isolation (n.)
When an individual restricts their movement voluntarily to prevent the spread of disease.

self-monitor (v.), self-monitoring (n.)
Checking for a fever by taking your temperature twice per day and remaining alert for a cough, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms of COVID-19. (see difficulty breathing, emergency warning signs, symptoms)

social distancing
A strategy to slow the spread of a disease by canceling events and maintaining six feet of distance from others at all times. (see prevention)

symptoms
Signs of disease exhibited by an infected person. According to the CDC, the main symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fever (100.4°F or higher)
  • chills
  • repeated shaking with chills
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • new loss of taste or smell

Difficulty breathing is one of the emergency warning signs requiring urgent medical attention. If you are feeling ill, please seek medical care right away. Go to the emergency room at UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000) or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500). Call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. (see difficulty breathing, emergency warning signs)

testing
Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests. If you are feeling ill, please seek medical care right away. Go to the emergency room at UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000) or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500). Call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. (see antibody test, viral test)

transmission
The spread of a disease from person to person through contact with a virus. According to the CDC, SARS-CoV-2 spreads primarily from person to person—specifically, within six feet of a sick person or through contact with droplets expelled when they cough or sneeze. (see COVID-19, prevention, SARS-CoV-2, social distancing)

virus
A microscopic collection of DNA or RNA surrounded by a protective protein coat. Once inside the body, viruses infect cells and use the body's resources to replicate themselves. Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot be killed by antibiotics—only antiviral medications or vaccines can treat viral infections. (see antiviral medication, treatment, vaccine, viral infection)

Other Terms

antibody
Proteins in your body that help fight off infections and usually provide immunity to a specific virus. (see immunity, virus) 

antibody test
A test that checks for the presence of antibodies in your body. If antibodies to a specific virus are present, it's likely you were infected with that virus sometime in the past. The CDC notes that it is not yet known whether antibodies can provide immunity to COVID-19, or how long such protection may last. (see antibody, immunity, virus)

antiviral medication
Prescription medicines that fight against viruses in your body, often reducing the severity and duration of viral infections. Antiviral medications are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections and are not effective against viruses. There are currently no antiviral medications approved to treat COVID-19. (see supportive care, treatment, viral infection, virus)

asymptomatic (adj.)
Used to describe someone who is not showing any symptoms of a disease. (see symptomatic, symptoms)

asymptomatic transmission
The spread of a disease from a person who does not show any symptoms while infected. (see transmission)

CARES Act
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed by Congress on March 25, 2020.

case severity
According to the CDC, the severity of COVID-19 symptoms have ranged from very mild to serious, with some leading to death. If you are feeling ill, please seek medical care right away. Go to the emergency room at UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000) or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500). Call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. (see symptoms)

community cases
New infections within a community that cannot be traced directly to travel or exposure to a traveler.

community spread
The spread of a disease within a community that cannot be traced directly to travel or exposure to a traveler.

containment
Combating a disease by preventing new infections; limiting the infections to a specific geographic area. (see mitigation)

domestic transmission
The spread of a disease within a country's borders. (see transmission)

epidemic
A sudden, unexpected increase in cases of a disease in a particular population or region.

essential employee
A person whose job provides a service that is necessary to the everyday functioning of society and cannot be done remotely. For example, health care employees, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, and first responders.

flu shot
Although COVID-19 and the flu are caused by different viruses, the CDC recommends getting a flu shot as a preventive measure. Getting a flu shot will reduce the chance that a person with the flu is mistaken for a person with COVID-19. (see prevention)

immunity
Being able to resist a disease due to the presence of antibodies in the body. (see antibody)

incubation period
The time from when a person becomes infected with a disease to when they begin showing symptoms. The incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to be 14 days. (see symptoms)

mitigation
Combating a disease by widespread treatment, as opposed to attempting to limit its spread. (see containment)

mortality rate
The mortality rate of COVID-19 is still unclear, and has varied depending on the region being scrutinized. However, higher mortality rates have been reported among at-risk populations. (see at-risk population)

outbreak
A sudden rise in the number of cases of a disease in a particular place.

personal travel
Any travel that is solely for personal reasons, unassociated with an individual’s affiliation with the University.

quarantine
The separation of people who have been exposed to a disease from healthy people.

SARS-CoV-2
The virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes referred to as "the novel coronavirus" or "the coronavirus". (see coronavirus, COVID-19)

supportive care
Medical care provided in a health care setting to combat more serious symptoms of COVID-19. Because there are no treatments approved to treat COVID-19, supportive care is intended to relieve the symptoms of COVID-19, not combat the disease itself. If you are feeling ill, please seek medical care right away. Go to the emergency room at UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000) or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500). Call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. (see symptoms, treatment)

sustained transmission
The active spread of a disease within a particular region. (see transmission)

symptomatic (adj.)
Used to describe someone who is showing symptoms of a disease. (see asymptomatic, symptoms)

treatment
According to the CDC, there are no approved treatments for COVID-19, but you can seek medical care for your symptoms. If you are feeling ill, please seek medical care right away. Go to the emergency room at UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000) or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500). Call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. (see emergency warning signs, symptoms)

vaccine
A treatment that stimulates the body's immune system to produce antibodies to a specific disease, often providing immunity to that disease. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. (see antibody, immunity)

ventilator
A specialized piece of medical equipment that takes over the breathing function of a person who can't breathe on their own. (see difficulty breathing, supportive care)

viral infection
A disease caused by the presence of a virus in the body. The common cold, the flu, and COVID-19 are all examples of viral infections. (see viral test, virus)

viral test
A test that checks for an active viral infection in your body. Some tests provide results in less than an hour. Other tests must be sent to a laboratory to analyze, a process that takes one to two days once received by the lab. If you are feeling ill, please seek medical care right away. Go to the emergency room at UP Health System Portage (906-483-1000) or Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (906-337-6500). Call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. (see symptoms, testing, viral infection, virus)

University travel
Any travel sponsored by or related to the University, including but not limited to symposiums, lectures, conferences, research, business trips, consulting, alumni events, and other travel associated with an individual’s affiliation with the University.

World Health Organization, WHO
The specialized health agency of the United Nations. WHO is coordinating the global response to COVID-19.