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Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, some of which cause respiratory illness in humans. Coronaviruses have been found circulating among animals, such as camels, cats and bats and a few have jumped to people - a spread that is defined by epidemiologists as "zoonotic." Prior to December 2019, there were six coronaviruses that were known to have circulated among people. Four cause about 25% of colds. One caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a disease that emerged in China in 2002, and another that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). In December, another coronavirus emerged that shared some of the same genes as SARS, and therefore has been named SARS-CoV-2019 by the World Health Organization. The understanding of this virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, is evolving almost daily, as scientists have raced to understand how contagious it is, its incubation period, it's morbidity and mortality rate, and how it passes between people.


New How I Did It

Details during a pandemic

Jessica Contrera has some ideas on getting detailed, memorable stories on COVID-19 and the impact on Americans. See it now »

New Multimedia

Visualizing virus spread

A military-grade infrared camera capable of detecting exhaled breath visually illustrates the risk of airborne transmission in real time. See it now »

New How I Did It

Responding to anti-science sentiment

Dana Smith talks about being thrust into COVID-19 coverage and how she tries to combat misinformation about the pandemic. See it now »


Coronaviruses/COVID-19 news — from Covering Health