Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in 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, SARS and now with this new virus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes the 2019 novel coronavirus disease, abbreviated COVID-19.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.
For confirmed cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.
Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. The current COVID-19 data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.
If you think about a virus like a tree growing and branching out; each branch on the tree is slightly different than the others. By comparing the branches, scientists can label them according to the differences. These small differences, or variants, have been studied and identified since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some variations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines. Those variants must be monitored more carefully.
The CDC is monitoring multiple variants; currently, there are four notable variants in the United States:
These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.
So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants.
For the latest information in West Virginia, visit the DHHR’s COVID-19 response page or call the state's COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-887-4304 or 304-341-1579 if from WVU and using out of state cell phone number. Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for more information about cases in the U.S. Visit the World Health Organization's Coronavirus Dashboard to learn more about the current global situation.
The CDC is offering guidance to those who have been fully vaccinated, including safe activities for you and your family. The CDC also offers tips on what you should keep doing to protect yourself and others.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as more is learned about COVID-19.
If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
In the Morgantown area, contact your physician or call WVU Medicine’s line at 304-598-6000 (Option 4). Elsewhere, contact your physician, your local county health department or the WV DHHR hotline at 304-341-1579. You can also call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-887-4304.
For WVU students and faculty, visit WVU Return to Campus for more information.
The DHHR hotline, 1-800-887-4304 or 304-341-1579 if from WVU and using out of state cell phone number, can also provide information about testing.
Students on the Morgantown campus with health questions or concerns should contact WVU Medicine Student Health at 304-285-7200. Student Health/UC Evansdale will be closed all Saturdays now through Aug. 8. Students on partner campuses should contact the Student Health Clinic or the local health department.
Some people in your family need to continue to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19, including:
Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus).
Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities or racial backgrounds. People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American. Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards people instead of the disease that is causing the problem. We can fight stigma and help not hurt others by providing social support.
The CDC is offering healthy tips to cope with stress. WVU students can access support services through the WVU Carruth Center, and Health Sciences students can access services through Carruth's satellite office, BeWell. Faculty and staff can access the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.
COVID-19 has introduced the world to a whole new vocabulary of public health terms. We've compiled a list of some of the terms you may be hearing and reading.