COVID-19 Terms to Know

Asymptomatic: Not showing any symptoms of illness. Even if you are not showing symptoms, you can still have and spread COVID-19.

Communicable: Diseases that can be transmitted from person to person.

Confirmed Case: Someone who has been tested and proven to be positive for COVID-19.

Contact Tracing: A system used by public health officials to help track the spread of COVID-19 from person to person and warn those who may have been exposed to an infected individual.

Coronavirus: A family of related viruses that can cause upper respiratory illnesses.

COVID-19: COVID-19 stands for “Coronavirus Disease 2019” which is caused by a new type of coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.

Crowded Housing: The condition where more people are located within a given space or home than is considered tolerable from a safety and health perspective which can depend on environmental and cultural norms.

Epidemic: Another term for an outbreak, often used when a large population is affected.

Essential Workers: Those who provide services that are necessary to maintain the operations of our infrastructure. For example, those that work in healthcare, law enforcement, government, food, and agriculture, etc.

Exposure: Occurs when you are within 6 feet of a person who is either showing symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19 and neither person is wearing a mask.

Fast Track (in terms of a COVID-19 vaccine): To accelerate or speed up the developmental process of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Flattening the Curve: Slowing the spread of COVID-19 in order to prevent a rapid increase in cases.

Food Desert: An area that has limited access to cheap and healthy food options.

Equality: Equality means that everyone gets the same treatment, the same chances, the same resources, etcetera. When we focus on equality, our ultimate goal is fairness.

Equity: Equity means that everyone gets what they need to succeed. When we focus on equity, our ultimate goal is justice.

Health Disparity: Refer to differences in health outcomes. Health differences that are closely linked with economic, social, or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic -status, gender, age, or mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.

Health Literacy: The ability of individuals to get, understand, and use health information and healthcare services to make appropriate and informed health-related decisions.

Herd Immunity by Natural Infection: When a sufficient number of people in a population have contracted and recovered from an illness and developed antibodies to that illness.

Herd Immunity by Vaccination: A practice where if a certain threshold of a population is vaccinated, the entire population can be protected from a certain virus due to a lowered ability for the virus to spread from person to person.

Immunity: The body’s ability to resist and protect itself from a specific illness or disease.

Immunocompromised: A person who has an immune system that cannot resist and protect against infection as well as others can.

Incubation Period: The amount of time it takes for symptoms of an illness to start showing. The incubation period of COVID-19 is anywhere from 2 days to 14 days, although most people start showing symptoms around 5 days after being infected.

Isolation: A period of time when a sick person must stay away from others to prevent the spread of disease.

Multigenerational Household: Family households that include three or more generations living under one roof.

Outbreak: The abrupt increase of cases of an illness in a particular population.

Pandemic: The global spread of an infectious illness or disease that has affected a large number of people.

Personal Protective Equipment: Personal Protective Equipment, also referred to as PPE, is the equipment used by healthcare workers to protect themselves and their patients from infection. Examples include masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles.

Physical Distancing: Also known as social distancing, means keeping at least 6 feet of space between you and others when out in public and avoiding large groups of people and crowded areas as much as possible.

Pre-Existing Condition: A medical condition that began before the health insurance went into effect.

Preventative Actions: Steps taken to avoid getting sick including wearing a mask, socially distancing, washing your hands, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are regularly touched, and monitoring your health for symptoms.

Quarantine: A period of time when people who have been exposed to contagious illnesses must stay away from others which helps to minimize the spread of the illness if the person were to become sick. Can be self-imposed or government-mandated.

Screening: A series of questions that help healthcare workers determine if an individual needs to be tested for an illness or disease.

Self-Isolation: Keeping away from others when you are sick or have been exposed to an illness to stop the spread. For COVID-19, this typically means staying away from people for at least 14 days.

Shelter in Place: An order from the government to stay where you are and only leave to get essentials so that you can protect yourself.

Stigma: Negative attitudes and beliefs toward people, places, or things.

Symptomatic: When a person exhibits symptoms of an illness or disease. For COVID-19, these symptoms can include a fever, cough, runny nose, loss of taste and/or smell, and difficulty breathing.

Vaccine: A product that helps a person’s immune system develop immunity to a specific illness or disease which protects them from getting sick. Usually given in the form of a needle injection.