asymptomatic – showing no symptoms of disease. A person infected with the virus can be asymptomatic because they are in an early stage of infection and symptoms have not yet developed (“pre-symptomatic”), or they may not develop any symptoms at all during their infection.
cloth face covering – CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should: fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face; be secured with ties or ear loops; include multiple layers of fabric; allow for breathing without restriction; be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
cluster – refers to an aggregation of cases grouped in place and time that are suspected to be greater than the number expected, even though the expected number may not be known.
community spread – Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
contact tracing – the process of tracing and notifying contacts of infected people to their exposure. This also involves monitoring and support to help ensure the safe, sustainable and effective quarantine of contacts to prevent additional transmission.
Coronavirus – coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that cause diseases in animals and humans. They often circulate among camels, cats, and bats, and can sometimes evolve and infect people.
COVID-19 – on February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.
close contact – a person who may be at risk of a contagious disease because of their proximity or exposure to a known case. For COVID-19, the CDC defines a close contact as anyone who has been within 6 feet of a person infected with the virus for a prolonged period of time or has had direct contact with the infected person’s secretions.
endemic – refers to the constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area.
epidemic – a cluster of outbreaks that have spread from one geographical area to others.
“flattening the curve” – an epidemic curve (epi curve) shows progression of illnesses in an outbreak over time. Epi curves depict when people became ill by day, week, or month. Flattening the curve is an attempt to slow the spread and prevent a dramatic increase in the number of infected individuals.
hand hygiene – a method for cleaning one’s hands that substantially reduces potential pathogens (harmful microorganisms) on the hands. Hand hygiene is considered a primary measure for reducing the risk of transmitting infection and involves the use of alcohol-based hand rubs and hand washing with soap and water.
incubation period – the amount of time it takes for an infected person to start showing symptoms of illness after exposure. In the case of coronavirus, the incubation period is thought to be between two days and two weeks, with the average being five days before symptoms start to appear.
isolation – used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. In the home, anyone sick or infected should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick room” or area and using a separate bathroom (if available).
N95 respirator – a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. Note that the edges of the respirator are designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth.
nasopharyngeal swab – is currently the optimal upper respiratory tract specimen collection method for COVID-19. This is done by inserting a flexible wire shaft swab through the nares parallel to the palate until resistance is encountered or the distance is equivalent to that from the ear to the nostril of the patient indicating contact with the nasopharnyx.
outbreak – a sudden increase in the number of cases of a particular disease in a relatively small geographical area.
pandemic – the worldwide spread of a new contagious disease that has infected a large number of people.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – specialized clothing or equipment, worn by an employee for protection against infectious materials.
quarantine – used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.
SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) – the virus that causes COVID-19.
self-monitoring – used to describe the active monitoring of yourself for the development of symptoms related to COVID-19.
shelter-in-place order – the definition of this term can vary, but in the COVID-19 context, it generally means staying home except to buy essentials such as food, gas or medicine, and minimizing contact with people outside of your immediate household.
social distancing – also called “physical distancing,” means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing: stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people; do not gather in groups; stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
surgical Mask – a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment.
vaccine – A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.
ventilator – a machine that is used to help a patient breathe by giving oxygen through a tube placed in a patient’s mouth or nose, or through a hole in the front of the neck.