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Last Updated  12/10/2021 – For the latest information, visit COVID-19 in 2022.

COVID-19 Overview

This website provides an overview and key documents, resources, tools and links to websites for the 2019-nCoV outbreak, that originated in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization (WHO) opens in a new tab initially declared it a global health emergency and on March 11, 2020, it upgraded the status to a global pandemic opens in a new tab.

In the U.S., Alex Azar, then Secretary of Health and Human Services, pursuant to authority vested to him under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, announced that a public health emergency (PHE) existed effective Jan. 31, 2020. The determination was renewed (90-day extensions) several times during 2020 and into 2021. Effective April 8 opens in a new tab, the new Secretary, Xavier Becerra, renewed the PHE declaration for another 90-day period. On July 20 opens in a new tab, the Secretary again renewed the emergency declaration. This now extends the PHE until at least Oct. 18, 2021 (unless extended or revoked).

On Oct. 15, 2021, as expected, HHS Secretary Becerra extended the PHE opens in a new tab through Jan. 31, 2022. This allows for a host of regulatory flexibilities in responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Nov. 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and named it Omicron; on Nov. 30, the United States also classified it as a Variant of Concern. On Dec.1, 2021, the CDC reported on the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) detected in the U.S.

Despite the detection of Omicron, Delta remains the predominant strain in the U.S. The recent emergence of the Omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters and general prevention strategies needed to protect against COVID-19. Everyone age five and older should get vaccinated and boosters are recommended for everyone 18 years and older.

On Jan. 14, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released “Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 Lineage — United States, December 29, 2020–January 12, 2021,” opens in a new tab announcing the detection of a more highly transmissible variant of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.7, in the U.S. Viruses typically mutate, this is expected. At present, there are five “Variants of Concern (VOC)” circulating in the U.S. These are associated with greater transmissibility, more severe disease and reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines. The implications of new variants that spread more easily means it is more important than ever to stop the spread. Wash your hands, wear your mask and watch your distance from others.

Effective Feb. 1, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET, the CDC has issued an Order opens in a new tab requiring masks be worn by travelers on all public transportation (e.g., airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares) traveling into, within or out of the U.S. as well as conveyance operators (e.g., crew, drivers, conductors and other workers involved in the operation of conveyances), operators of transportation hubs (e.g., airports, bus or ferry terminals, train or subway stations, seaports, ports of entry) or any other area that provides transportation in the U.S.

People must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when awaiting, boarding, traveling on or disembarking public conveyances. People must also wear masks when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub in the U.S. Attributes of masks needed to fulfill the requirements of the Order can be found here opens in a new tab. The CDC will update this guidance as needed.

The CDC provides a wealth of information, data and resources about COVID-19 opens in a new tab. The site covers an array of topics from guidance and science updates to implications and recommendations for healthcare workers, including clinicians and for the public.

Effective Feb. 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) renamed 2019-nCoV to COVID-19 opens in a new tab. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC opens in a new tab) has followed suit and updated its website with the new name.
  • Coronaviruses are common around the world and cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to SARS and MERS. Viruses of this family also cause disease in animals. CDC confirmed person-to-person transmission in the U.S on Jan. 30. opens in a new tab On Feb. 26, they confirmed a possible instance of community spread opens in a new tab of the virus that causes COVID-19.On Oct. 5, CDC updated its guidance to reflect insights learned over time, namely that in addition to COVID-19 spreading very easily from person to person, most commonly spreading during close contact, it can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission, like measles, TB and chicken pox.
  • Complete CDC information and recommendations to date are available here opens in a new tab. The situation is unfolding dynamically; guidance will evolve.
  • CDC COVIDView opens in a new tab (April 5). A weekly COVID-19 surveillance report of U.S. cases. The report summarizes and interprets key indicators including information related to COVID-19 outpatient visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as laboratory data.
  • CDC – As of Nov.4, CDC now recommends that people wear masks opens in a new tab in public settings, such as on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
  • CDC – On Nov.10, CDC backed up its strongest endorsement yet for the widespread wearing of masks when it posted substantiating scientific rationale in a Scientific Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 opens in a new tab.
  • CDC Coronavirus “Self-Checker” opens in a new tab. The purpose of the Coronavirus Self-Checker is to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. This system does not replace the judgment of healthcare professionals or the performance of any clinical assessment.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Aug. 17 the resumption of routine inspections opens in a new tab of all providers and suppliers. CMS has also posted an updated (Version 13) toolkit to assist nursing homes opens in a new tab</span.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list of EPA-registered disinfectants that are qualified for use against COVID-19 opens in a new tab on March 5. The SARS-CoV-2, is a coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product. Follow manufacturer’s direction for use of the product; pay close attention to the contact time (how long product must remain on the surface). Disinfect high touch surface areas frequently.
  • The WHO COVID-19 outbreak website opens in a new tab contains excellent videos on topics such as proper use, removal and disposal of PPE, and infographics for download. It also houses up-to-date facts and global statistics on the disease.


Other Resources

On March 13, CMS issued Guidance for Infection Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Nursing Homes opens in a new tab. In brief, the guidance is to adhere to CDC current recommendations opens in a new tab regarding residents, staff and visitors. Long-term care facilities concerned that a resident, visitor or employee may be a COVID-2019 patient under investigation (PUI) opens in a new tab should contact their local or state health department immediately for consultation and guidance.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)

American Health Care Association (AHCA)

The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA)

Surge capacity, meaning a facility’s or healthcare systems’ ability to handle a sudden increase in volume or demand, is fundamental to disaster preparedness. Surge capability is focused on meeting specialized needs, i.e., need for ICU care or specific care need, such as, isolation. Preparation is key.

Communities also have a key role to play as active participants in planning for and responding to local health care crises, such as COVID-19.

From April 2012 to July 2013, a novel new coronavirus caused respiratory illness in 81 adults (45 fatal) from four countries in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates), as well as France, Germany, Tunisia and the United Kingdom. (Updated case counts opens in a new tab). Symptoms included fever, cough and shortness of breath. The new virus was named the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus or (MERS-CoV). There is still limited information on transmission, severity and clinical impact. Thus far, all clusters of cases have occurred in a healthcare setting or among close family contacts. Human-to-human transmission was documented on several occasions in which secondary cases had not traveled to affected areas and is strongly suspected in others. In May 2014, there were two imported cases of MERS in travelers from Saudi Arabia to the US, however the cases were not linked. For more information, visit the CDC website on MERS opens in a new tab.

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This site is no longer being updated; it is staying available for historical reference until 6/30/2022.

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