Public Health Topics

HEALTH ALERT: 2019 Novel Coronavirus

UPDATED Feb. 20, 2020

For the most recent updates from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), click here.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus. The coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. On Feb. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization named the disease coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Coronaviruses are common in animals including camels, cattle, cats and bats. They are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Rarely, these animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread from person-to-person such as with MERS and SARS. Officials in China report that the novel coronavirus is spreading person-to-person.

  • Common signs of infection: Respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
  • In severe cases: pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death


CDC Recommendations:

  • Avoid nonessential travel to China 
  • Get your flu vaccine
  • Take preventive actions to stop the spread of germs
    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
    • If soap and water is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • When you’re sick, stay home and limit contact with others
    • Use a tissue or cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects

Coronavirus in the United States:

The first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread was reported in the U.S. on January 30, 2020. A day later, the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency to aid the healthcare community in responding to the coronavirus. At this time, the virus is not currently spreading in the U.S.

For updates on the status of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, visit the CDC