The Coronavirus was First Detected in China...
...and has now been detected in more than 150 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
March 11, 2020 COVID-19 is Characterized as a Pandemic. March 13, 2020 President Trump declares COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency.
Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.
Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of any ages with severe chronic medical conditions -- like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing serious COVID-19 illness.
COVID-19 Now a Pandemic
A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide.
This is the first pandemic known to be caused by the emergence of a new coronavirus.
At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it.