​An international public health response is currently underway to monitor and contain an outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).​

While this coronavirus is novel, the coronavirus family is large. Found in many species of animals including camels, cat, cattle and bats, coronaviruses can cause illness in humans ranging from the common cold to severe infections. 

Timeline of the COVID-19 ​​Pandemic 

  • December 2019: The first patient with pneumonia​-like symptoms was reported to have a new respiratory illness in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

  • January 11, 2020: Chinese health authorities posted the full genome of 2019-nCoV in GenBank.

  • ​​​January 30, 2020: WHO declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) under the 2005 International Health Regulations. 

  • January 31, 2020: HHS Secretary declared a public health emergency for the entire US which paved the way for emergency use authorization ​(E​UA) assays and the mobilization of resources to support the response. 

  • February 4, 2020: FDA issued an EUA for the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019 n-CoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, which allowed CDC to begin distributing test kits to public health laboratories through the International Reagent Resource. 

  • February 11, 2020: WHO announced a new name for the disease responsible for the novel outbreak to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. 

  • March 11, 2020: WH​O has characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic.  ​


Early in this outbreak, many of the patients were reportedly linked to a large seafood and animal market suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients report no exposure to animal markets, suggesting limited person-to-person spread is occurring. It remains unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.​

Prevention ​

​Follow CDC guidance on personal protection and local instruction on social distancing practices.​​​