COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019)

What is COVID-19 and how did it start?

Coronaviruses are a type of virus.  There are many different kinds of coronaviruses, and not all cause disease.  Coronaviruses are named for their appearance, and under a microscope, the viruses look like they are covered with pointed structures that surround them like a "corona", or crown.  Some coronaviruses can cause colds or other mild respiratory illnesses (nose, throat, and lung), while other coronaviruses can cause more severe respiratory diseases, also known as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) refers to the infectious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).  Coronavirus 2 is a newly identified type of virus that appears to have originated in China in December, 2019.  


The first known case of COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, a city in China, on December 1, 2019.  Although health officials are still trying to trace the exact source of this new coronavirus, early hypotheses think it may be linked to a seafood market in Wuhan.  People that visited the market developed viral pneumonia caused by coronavirus 2.  Investigations are still ongoing as to how this virus originated and spread.  


Recent information indicates that COVID-19 may be passed from person to person, and symptoms may be incubated from 1-14 days, with the average amount of time for a person to show symptoms being 5 days so far.  


The spread of coronavirus 2 is being closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency.  


in 2003, an outbreak of SARS also originated in China and spread to other countries before ending in 2004.  Coronavirus 2 is similar to the coronavirus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak.  As it is still in early stages, much is still unknown, but health officials have stated that coronavirus 2 spreads faster than the 2003 SARS but may cause less severe illness.  


As of March 12, 2020, 4,718 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19.  However, 68,310 people have recovered from the illness.