COVID-19 terms to know

Isadora Li, staff writer

COVID-19 is here, and with the amount of sources reporting on the pandemic, you might be wondering what some common terms you’re reading mean. Here is your complete guide to terms used by medical professionals when describing the COVID-19 pandemic:

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control

Coronavirus: Any disease caused by an RNA (acid found in the nucleus of cells) virus. There are many different variations of coronaviruses that exist such as the flu or common cold. 

Novel coronavirus: A way to clarify which new form of the coronavirus is circulating at the moment. “Novel” means “new”.

SARS-CoV-2: The specific coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

COVID-19: The acronym for Corona Virus Disease 19, the specific type of coronavirus being caused by SARS-CoV-2, beginning late 2019 to present.

MERS: The acronym used for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which began to circulate in 2012. MERS is another type of coronavirus. Symptoms are similar to the flu, but more fatal. MERS has been most prominent in the Middle East and there have only been two cases in the United States since 2014.

SARS: The acronym used for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS is a type of coronavirus and symptoms appear similar to the flu but more fatal. SARS was widely spread from 2002 to 2004. There have only been nine reported cases of SARS since late 2003.

Epidemic: A rapid increase in the number of infected patients within a specific population or community. 

Pandemic: “An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity,” according to the World Health Organization. COVID-19 has been classified as a pandemic as of March 11, 2020. A pandemic spreads rapidly through countries and the rate of infection increases quickly. Pandemics cover more area than epidemics.

Quarantine: A measure put in place to ensure the prevention of disease spreading. This may be enacted through limited contact and the use of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves. 

Social Distancing: A tactic to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Social distancing includes maintaining a distance of six feet from individuals and refraining for group gatherings of more than ten people.

“Flatten the curve”: Refers to the trend of decreasing the number of new COVID-19 cases per day by employing measures such as social distancing and stay at home orders.

Immunocompromised: When a person’s ability to fight infections and illnesses is weakened, they are considered to be immunocompromised. People who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to higher risks and complications after contracting COVID-19.

N95 Respirator: A piece of protective equipment used to filter airborne particles out of air to breathe. N95 Respirators are a type of face mask that filters out 95 percent of .3 micron sized particles. While effective, these do not completely eliminate the risk of infection.

Ventilator: A device that helps people breathe. Often when a COVID-19 patient requires hospitalization, it may have to do with their ability to breathe. Ventilators help these patients continue to breathe while they are being treated for other symptoms.