Note: Additional COVID-19 information for the general public can be found here.
The CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus that was first detected in China and has now been detected in more than 70 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency for the United States to aid the nation’s health care community in responding to COVID-19.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic as the number of infected countries grows. Read more here.
Source and Spread of the Virus
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people, such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus, SARS-CoV-2.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All 3 of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.
Both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have been known to cause severe illness in people. The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully understood. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people with compromised immune systems and certain underlying health conditions - such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, to name a few - seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.
Learn more about the symptoms associated with COVID-19.
The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high, to the United States and globally.
Initial risk assessment:
- 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.
CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.
Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) or Long COVID
PASC, also known as Long COVID, is currently estimated to affect approximately 10-30% of individuals who had COVID-19 according to two Journal of American Medical Association publications: As Their Numbers Grow, COVID-19 “Long Haulers” Stump Experts and Sequelae in Adults at 6 Months After COVID-19 Infection.
Of note, a recent publication of one of the first studies on PASC found
that approximately a third of the patients suffering PASC were initially asymptomatic. Symptoms of PASC are varied and ongoing, including neurological challenges, cognitive problems such as brain fog, shortness of breath, fatigue, musculoskeletal
pain and mobility issues.
AAPM&R is the national medical specialty organization representing more than 10,000 physicians who are specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). PM&R physicians, also known as physiatrists, are medical experts in treating a wide variety of conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. PM&R physicians evaluate and treat injuries, illnesses and disabilities, and are experts in designing comprehensive, patient-centered treatment plans. Physiatrists utilize cutting-edge as well as time-tested treatments to maximize function and quality of life. Due to their training and expertise, PM&R physicians are uniquely qualified to help guide the multidisciplinary planning effort needed to address the rehabilitation and care needs of this rapidly growing patient population.