2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named coronavirus disease 2019 abbreviated “COVID-19”. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, the virus has been identified in other countries, including cases in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and usually cause mild to moderate illness in people. This new virus is a public health concern because:

  • It is newly identified, so much is still unknown about it.
  • Two other human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have caused severe illness.

What is the risk?

The CDC considers this new virus a public health concern based on current information. However, the immediate health risk to the general US public is considered low at this time. The CDC and the World Health Organization are closely monitoring the situation and providing ongoing guidance.

Symptoms and transmission:

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear exactly how it is transmitted and how easily the virus spreads between people.

Travel to/through Wuhan or other parts of China:

The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their health care provider.


People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. (Source: CDC)


There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Currently, COVID-19 has not been found to be spreading in the U.S., so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take.

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick with a respiratory illness until you are free of fever for 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medication).
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched, hard surfaces and objects, including but not limited to, door knobs, telephones, and computer keyboards.

Recommendations for people with respiratory symptoms:

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing and in the last 14 days you:

  • Traveled to Wuhan, or
  • Visited an affected region in China, or
  • Had close contact with someone who had traveled to an affected region in China and had respiratory symptoms.

You should: 

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Contact TSU Student Health Services (SHS), if you are an enrolled student. SHS is located in the Student Health Center. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday, from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. If the department is closed, please go to the nearest Emergency Room for further evaluation. Please call ahead to notify the staff you think you may have been exposed to the virus before going to the clinic at (713) 313-7173.
  • Faculty and staff should contact their health care provider or call the local Health Department at 832-393-5169.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Stay home if you are sick with a respiratory illness.
  • Avoid public transportation
  • For medical emergencies, please call the campus police at (713) 313-7000. Notify the police that you think you may have been exposed to the virus. Campus Police will notify EMS of your location for further evaluation.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

What is the campus health service doing about Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

TSU Health Services is continuously monitoring the local and national news and following the guidelines put in place by the Center for Disease Prevention (CDC), and the American College Health Association (ACHA). We will continue to update the campus with new information as it is received. For more information visit the CDC or the ACHA websites at cdc.gov or ACHA.org.