About COVID-19

Learn about what COVID-19 is, its risks, and what to do if you have symptoms.

Last updated: March 26, 2020

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What Is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?*

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that it expects the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread across the United States, as the number of cases continues to grow worldwide.

At this time, a number of cases are appearing in the state of Connecticut. This website is intended to provide our students, faculty, staff, and visitors with the latest information about the outbreak and its impact the university community.

What Are The Risks?*

Reported community spread of COVID-19 in parts of the United States raises the level of concern about the immediate threat for COVID-19 for those communities. The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high, to the United States and globally.

At this time, different parts of the country are seeing different levels of COVID-19 activity. The duration and severity of each phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) publicly characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic, or a global outbreak of disease, and on March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed.

Current risk assessment:

  • The immediate risk of being exposed to this virus is still low for most Americans, but as the outbreak expands, that risk will increase. Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are being reported in a growing number of states.
  • People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with the level of risk dependent on the location.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.

How Does COVID-19 Spread?*

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It can also spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects.

  • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.


Symptoms of this illness can range from mild to severe and can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

What to Do If You Have Symptoms of COVID-19*

If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention any recent travel or close contact with someone showing these symptoms. Your healthcare professional will work with the state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If do become sick, stay home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain at home until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. How long you need to stay home should be a decision made in consultation with your healthcare providers and state and local health departments.


There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can play your part in public health efforts to limit the reach of the virus by taking everyday preventative actions that help stop the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Practice social distancing whenever possible. Avoid crowds and close contact with people who are sick, and put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Refrain from shaking hands when greeting others.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.


There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Call ahead to a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact (within approximately 6 feet) with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. Please visit the What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) factsheet.

Learn More*


*Information in this section was adapted from the CDC website on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.