The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Learn about 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Frequently Asked Questions

This information has been adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For the latest information specific to the OSU Campus, read the latest OSU Coronavirus Update

Coronaviruses are a group of common viruses. Some affect animals; others can also affect humans. Seven different coronaviruses, that we know of to date, can infect people. Human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory infections, like the common cold. They can also cause more severe illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

There are several different types of human coronaviruses. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronaviruses are all human coronaviruses.

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus. Learn about 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Public health officials are working to identify the source of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Many patients in the early outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and animal market. This suggests that the virus may have emerged from an animal source. Officials are analyzing the genetics of this virus to learn its specific source. 

Other coronaviruses that emerged to infect people came from animals. SARS came from civet cats and MERS came from camels.

No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals. 

COVID-19 is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the one that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 

There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation. Information will be updated by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as it becomes available.

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 or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. If you are worried about your symptoms, call the SHS nurse advice line at 541-737-2724.


When to Seek Medical Attention

If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

Patients with COVID-19 have reported symptoms including mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Read about COVID-19 Symptoms.

This virus now seems to be spreading from person to person. While some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), other viruses are less so. We do not yet know how easily COVID-19 spreads from person to person. 

With other serious coronaviruses MERS and SARS, it is thought that person-to-person spread has occurred mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza is spread. Spread of MERS and SARS between people has generally occurred between close contacts.

Yes. The first infection with COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. See the current U.S. case count of infection with COVID-19.

There are no specific treatments. With mild to moderate infections, most people get better on their own. You can relieve your symptoms by:

  • Taking over-the-counter medicines for pain, fever, and cough. (Note: Do not give aspirin to children and do not give cough medicine to those under age four.)
  • Using a room humidifier or taking a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough.
  • Getting plenty of rest.
  • Drinking fluids.

For people infected with COVID-19, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended. Instead, infected people should receive care to help relieve symptoms. Learn more about COVID-19 Treatment.

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Learn more about COVID-19 Treatment.

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19.

Right now, there aren't any vaccines to prevent human coronavirus infections. You may able to reduce your risk of getting or spreading an infection by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that you frequently touch.
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue afterward and wash your hands.
  • Staying home when sick.

Visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment page to learn more about protecting yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.

As of February 4, 2020, public health authorities will contact returning travelers to assess their risk of the virus and ask them to stay home and watch for symptoms for 14 days.

Students with questions can start by contacting the Nurse Advice Line at 541-737-2724 (during clinic hours) and 541-737-9355 (after hours). 

Staff with questions can start by contacting Benton County Health Department at 541-766-6835.

People with symptoms should call their primary health care provider to decide if they need to be seen. If so, they can create a plan to enter a clinic in a way that avoids being around others.

OSU Cares for the Health and Well-being of all OSU students

The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is impacting people all over the world. We know it is hard to be away from home during this time.

If you are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns for family members in China, please contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 541-737-2131 to speak with someone.

You can contact Pei-Chun Hou at  to connect with a counselor who speaks Mandarin Chinese.

If you have any questions about how to keep yourself healthy, and how best to support the health of students around you, please contact Student Health Services Nurse Advice line at: 541-737-2724

We are here to help.

For students who plan to travel to areas with high risk of exposure to COVID-19, be aware that there may be travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. when you return, based on the location you have visited. 

In addition, there may be airport delays and potential denial of boarding a flight at the departure airport if screening shows potential for infection when returning to the U.S. Screening may also be done at the airport of entry into the U.S. with potential for quarantine if there is suspicion of infection with the COVID-19 virus.

OSU is tracking health emergency travel restrictions for COVID-19 at

As information evolves always check with the CDC for travel guidance:

You may also check with the US Department of State for travel advisories at the State Department Travel Advisories Website:

If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from Wuhan, China, you should call ahead to a healthcare provider and mention your recent travel or close contact. 

If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare provider and mention your recent travel or close contact. 

Your healthcare provider will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

At this time, the CDC does not have evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from China pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the U.S. 

The United States Department of Agriculture regulates imports of animals and animal products, and CDC regulates imports of animals and animal products that are capable of spreading human disease.

There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. 

Two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS and SARS). COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS than MERS. In general, because of poor survivability of these other coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. 

Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

Oregon State University Library staff have suggested a number of online resources available to the OSU community:

Updated March 10, 2020

A robust response structure with personnel, plans, and resources is in place. Since Jan. 28, OSU has provided communications to faculty, staff, students, and the parents and families of students. OSU is regularly updating COVID-19 information online, including frequently asked questions (FAQs). Enhanced touchpoint cleaning within university buildings is taking place. OSU has upgraded its remote conferencing capabilities and is providing preparations should the health risk increase within OSU, prompting classes and other meetings to occur remotely. Many other plans are in place as well. The situation is being continuously monitored through daily steering committee meetings and updates throughout the university community. OSU's response levels will be dependent upon local health authority guidance for each OSU location. Students and OSU employees can take personal actions by following the guidance on the university’s COVID-19 website. For questions that require specific expertise, such as visa/immigration or housing/dining, please contact the relevant OSU office.

Student Health Services is committed to supporting the health and wellness of the campus community.  This commitment includes making rapid adjustments to our processes based on current needs. The tents are being erected to support adjustments to Student Health Services’ standard intake processes to better support social distancing measures and create the appropriate medical setting to maintain the health and safety of OSU’s students and staff in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The two tents will accommodate adequate spacing for triage, monitoring and tracking of all staff, patients and visitors coming to SHS. These tents will serve as the central screening station to route patients to the appropriate areas (“respiratory or routine”), while providing confidential space for clinicians to review symptoms before moving patients on to designated spaces for further assessment and care. Anyone presenting with respiratory symptoms will be routed to a designated space within Plageman; employees with a fever will be sent home with appropriate public health guidance to pursue care. 

Updated March 10, 2020

Oregon State University will remain vigilant in monitoring COVID-19 developments. Any university decisions about modifying class schedule or attendance expectations will be made in alignment with university and academic leaders. OSU faculty are preparing to provide for remote delivery of teaching typically provided at OSU’s campuses and centers in the event that a local outbreak of COVID-19 results in the university deciding to limit on-campus operations and teaching.

Updated March 11, 2020

Oregon State University will notify the university community as soon as we become aware of any positive COVID-19 cases in the OSU community that are verified by the corresponding county health authority.

Updated March 10, 2020

Enhanced touchpoint cleaning is taking place using a disinfectant that is effective on human coronaviruses. Touchpoints include door knobs and handles, faucet handles, soap dispenser levers, paper towel dispenser controls, elevator button panels and light switches.

The university is sharing frequent COVID-19 updates and public health and prevention information by emails to faculty, staff and students, as well as on the university’s COVID-19 website that is easily located through a link from the university’s home page.  OSU building managers have posted COVID-19 disease prevention signs from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in entry areas and restrooms of OSU locations throughout the state. OSU employees received access to these signs in an email communication for use in their work spaces as well, and printable posters are available on OSU’s COVID-19 website. 


The best preventative health measures are to:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often for 20 seconds or more with soap, or use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces like phone, keyboard, doorknobs, desks or tablets with alcohol-based wipes. 
  • Cover your cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue; then throw the tissue away.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to support a healthy immune system.
  • Avoid touching mouth, eyes, and nose until after washing hands thoroughly.

Updated March 10, 2020

OSU takes matters of bias very seriously. We strive to be an inclusive and caring community, and the university does not tolerate xenophobia, racism or prohibited discrimination. If you have experienced a negative interaction as a result of fear about COVID-19, you are encouraged to complete a Bias Incident Report. The bias incident report intake process includes consulting with the Equal Opportunity and Access Office to determine whether they are best positioned to respond based on the content of the report. You can also report a bias incident to your advisor or, if you are an INTO student, to an INTO OSU care team member. It is very important that the university is made aware of bias incidents. The COVID-19 situation requires caring and support for each other, and is not the time to be fearful of our fellow OSU community members. This is the time to support each other.

Updated March 10, 2020

Immuno-compromised students and students with serious non-infectious illness will be allowed maximum leniency in attendance. Students are encouraged to request assistance if they believe in-person communication is problematic. The university will utilize the COVID-19 Updates website to provide information and send emails to ensure that all faculty and graduate teaching assistants are aware of changes.

In the eventuality that the virus more directly impacts OSU, the university will utilize the COVID-19 website to provide information and send emails to ensure that all faculty and graduate teaching assistants are aware of changes.

Updated April 2, 2020

The decision to stop self-isolation should always be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and the local health department. The decision to end self-isolation may take into account specific home and work conditions, as well as current conditions within the local community. 

Talk with your healthcare provider about whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  guidance on ending self-isolation applies to your situation.  The CDC offers the following guidance for people who have been staying at home to end their self-isolation but your healthcare provider may have recommendations specific to your situation:

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (3 full days) without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • AND your respiratory symptoms have resolved (cough, shortness of breath). 
  • AND at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared (or since the date of your first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test).

For additional guidance, visit:

Update April 3, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends the use of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. The use of cloth face coverings is an additional voluntary public health measure, especially important in areas where there is significant spread of the infection within the community. Cloth face coverings can be created from household items, such as bandanas or scarves, or made at home using common low-cost materials.

Emerging research indicates that people infected with the COVID-19 may have very mild or even no symptoms, known as “asymptomatic.”  Also, people may begin to transmit the virus shortly before they develop symptoms – or when they are “pre-symptomatic.” This means that the virus can spread between people in close proximity – for example, through speaking, coughing or sneezing – even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. 

Important: The Oregon Health Authority advises that for the general public, wearing homemade cloth face coverings that are well-made and well-fitting can help prevent the spread of infection when the mask is worn by someone who is already infected with the virus (the covering may block some infectious droplets from spreading when someone coughs or sneezes). 

Cloth face coverings should not be considered reliable protection from infection. It is critical that people continue following all social distancing measures outlined in Gov. Brown’s  “Stay home, Save Lives” order. This includes staying home and limiting contact with others as much as possible. Additionally, please be aware of OSU's social distancing policy.

It is also critical that people continue diligence by taking these important measure, which are the most effective way to prevent illnesss:

·       Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 meters) away from others.

·       Wash hands thoroughly and often.

·       Avoid touching their face.

·       Stay away from people who are ill. 

Cloth face coverings are not the same as masks used for medical purposes, such as surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those critical supplies must be reserved for health care workers and other first responders, per CDC guidance.

Everyone, even people who are young and healthy, must stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Read more hereabout Gov. Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” orders. Read more here about OHA’s social distancing guidelines.

Updated April 6, 2020

The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The use of simple cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  (link to Hot Topics message above)

Cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric.
  • Allow for breathing without restriction.
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth when taking their face covering off and wash their hands immediately after removing. Always avoid touching the front of the mask. Face covering should be routinely washed – a washing machine should suffice to properly wash face coverings. 

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Guidance for making face coverings is readily available through multiple sites, such as hospitals and county health agencies. John Hopkins Medicine advises that fabric used should be patterned and never solid white or solid blue to avoid confusion with medical-grade masks.  Blue and white patterns should be avoided as well.

Remember: Stay home; stay 6 feet apart from others; wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and wear a cloth face covering when leaving home. 

For guidance on making cloth face coverings, visit: 

How to wear a cloth face covering and sewing instructions.