Coronavirus glossary: Some terms to know

Coronavirus glossary: Some terms to know
Dr. Jana Cua, left, is swabbed as she is tested for COVID-19 at the Doris Ison Health Center, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Miami. The testing is being provided by Community Health of South Florida, Inc. The vast majority of people recover from the new coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

There is a lot of information about the coronavirus being distributed, and some of it can be confusing.

Here are some terms and their definitions to help you to better be able to follow the reporting on the virus:

  • Spanish Flu of 1918: An influenza pandemic that was extraordinarily deadly. It infected 500 million people globally, killing 50 million. The 1918 pandemic is considered the deadliest in history.
  • ARDS: ARDS stands for acute respiratory distress syndrome. The disease, a possible complication of the new coronavirus, kills 30% to 40% of the people who get it. About one in 100 people with coronavirus get ARDS.
  • Asymptomatic: A term for person who has COVID-19 but is showing no symptoms of the virus.
  • CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, headquartered in Atlanta. The CDC is a federal agency overseeing public health.
  • Clinical trial: New drugs and vaccines used to fight disease are tested on humans and/or animals in research studies called clinical trials.
  • Community spread/ transmission: Cases of disease that happen in communities without researchers knowing the person with the disease contracted it.
  • Communicable: Communicable means “capable of being easily communicated (spread) or transmitted.” COVID-19 is a communicable disease.
  • Confirmed positive case: When a person suspected of having coronavirus is tested and confirmed to have the virus by the CDC.
  • Contact tracing: When health officials follow the trail of people a person with the virus has come in contact with.
  • Containment area: A geographic area where a cluster of cases of disease have occurred and strict social distancing or isolation measures have been ordered.
  • Coronavirus: Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are fairly common both in people and animals. One variation of the virus causes the cold. It is believed that the virus was transferred from an animal to a human, something coronavirus can do. It is sometimes called novel coronavirus because this strain of the virus has not been seen before.
  • COVID-19: The name of the new coronavirus.
  • Epidemic: An outbreak of disease in a community during a set period of time.
  • Epidemiologist: Someone who studies diseases within certain populations.
  • Fatality rate: The number of people infected with a disease that die from that disease. The fatality rate for the coronavirus now is estimated to be about 1%. However, until more are tested, the number may not be that accurate. It is likely to be less than that.
  • Flattening the curve: Flatten the curve means slowing the spread of an epidemic disease so the healthcare system doesn’t become overwhelmed. The curve represents the number of cases over time, and flattening that curve means preventing a huge surge of new cases in a very short period of time.
  • Incubation period: The period of time between being exposed to a virus and when you first who symptoms of the disease.
  • Isolation: Keeping someone who is sick with a disease away from anyone who is not providing medical care to that person.
  • Mitigation: Focusing on making preparations to fight a disease once it is obvious that it is widespread and can no longer be contained. The term generally refers to stockpiling materials, getting medical facilities ready and implementing social distancing practices.
  • Outbreak: A sudden cluster of disease.
  • Pandemic: An epidemic that spreads worldwide.
  • Persons Under Investigation (PUI): The number of people who have been tested for the new coronavirus in a specific area.
  • Presumptive positive case: A case of COVID-19 that has been tested by state or local healthcare officials but has not been confirmed by the CDC.
  • Quarantine: Quarantine means keeping a person who has been exposed to the virus home to limit exposure to the community. A quarantined person is not a person who has symptoms of the virus, only exposure to it.
  • Self-quarantine: A decision someone makes to refrain from contact with others during an outbreak.
  • Shelter-in-place order: A directive from the government to stay inside your home. The San Francisco Bay area issued a shelter-in-place order on Monday.
  • Shutdown order: A requirement from a government agency to close a business.
  • Social distancing: Restricting behavior and limiting in-person interactions to slow the spread of disease.
  • State of emergency: A declaration by a local, state or federal government that allows for that government to take steps to respond to an emergency by using special powers to divert funding from one area to another and to get funding from the federal government.
  • Vaccine: A substance that is given to a person that will provide immunity to a disease.
  • WHO: The World Health Organization. The agency tracks disease spread worldwide.
  • Zoonotic: A disease transmitted from animals to people.