Marymount California University Library

Coronavirus Library Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, and more severe illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).  Coronaviruses commonly circulate in animals and sometimes infect humans. The coronavirus under investigation, 2019-Coronavirus, is believed to have originated from animals. While the mode of transmission remains unclear, person-to person transmission is occurring.

What Is COVID-19?

  • COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered strain of coronavirus. The outbreak originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
  • The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have shortness of breath, aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. About 80% of those infected recover without needing special treatment.
  • Around 1 in 6 patients with COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2% of those infected have died.
  • People with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

In areas where the COVID-19 virus is spreading, it is transmitted through:

  • Respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes;
  • Close personal contact, such as caring for an infected person; and
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

How long after exposure does it take for symptoms to appear?

Most experts agree that the incubation period for COVID-19 appears to be 2-14 days. It may also be possible for infected persons to spread COVID-19 before they have symptoms of the disease. For this reason, social distancing (see below) has been recommended for persons returning from travel in affected areas and routine precautions are recommended for the entire community. 

How can I minimize the risk of contracting the virus?

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you feel sick, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze (with your bent elbow, or with a tissue that is immediately thrown in the trash).
  • Cook meat and eggs thoroughly.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you feel unwell or become sick with similar symptoms to COVID-19, seek medical treatment immediately. Call in advance of visiting your health care provider, and follow their instructions.
  • Read about COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment.
  • Consider an elbow bump or footshake instead of a handshake when greeting colleagues and friends.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the practice of avoiding congregated settings and limiting public activities. To the extent possible, persons recommended to practice social distancing should remain home or in a comparable setting. Social distancing is recommended for the duration of the known incubation period (14 days for COVID-19).

How is social distancing different from isolation or quarantine?

Social distancing is a self-regulated recommended practice for those with higher risks for developing COVID-19. Quarantine is the mandated separation of persons with known exposure to the disease ( i.e., a close contact or immediate family member). Isolation is the process of keeping those with the confirmed disease away from the healthy population.

What procedures does MCU have in place to manage outbreaks like COVID-19?

MCU has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. Administrators and health professionals are closely monitoring all developments related to COVID-19, and will continue to update the MCU community as the situation evolves. The university is in close communication with local and state authorities, and is following all guidelines outlined by the CDC and the LA County Department of Public Health. In the unlikely event of an outbreak on campus, MCU is prepared to respond in a holistic manner. The campus community would be notified, and the established plans and protocols would be mobilized.

I have upcoming travel plans. What precautions should I take?

It is strongly recommended that you stay informed on the current status of COVID-19 within your upcoming destination. If your destination has confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19, you should closely follow all travel advisories issued by the CDC, including potentially postponing or canceling travel. The university discourages students from traveling internationally or to currently impacted regions.

View the full list of CDC travel alerts

Should I wear a mask?

The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illness, including COVID-19. A facemask should be worn only by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. The use of facemasks is also crucial for healthcare professionals and those taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close proximity.

I recently returned from travel to affected areas. What precautions should I take?

Monitor your health for 14 days following your return from affected areas. During that time, you should stay home and limit interactions with others as much as possible. If you start to feel unwell (even just a headache), call your healthcare provider ASAP and notify them of your recent travel to the affected area.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19? Does the flu shot help prevent COVID-19?

A preventative shot is not available at this time, although numerous labs are working on developing a vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine does not prevent COVID-19, however, the CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age get the flu vaccine. The common flu is currently very widespread, and if you don't get sick, you won't need to worry about the symptoms aligning with those of COVID-19.

Can I get COVID-19 from a package delivered from China?

It's a legitimate question. But U.S. health officials state that there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 through imported goods.


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