• Asymptomatic: presenting no symptoms of disease. In the case of COVID-19, this means absence of fever, dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and body aches, among other less common symptoms. Notably, it is recommended that individuals do not get tested unless they exhibit symptoms because of the risk of false negatives. In other words, most tests will not be accurate unless symptoms are present.
  • Community spread: the spread of a contagious disease in a geographic area in which there is no knowledge of how someone contracted the disease. In other words, no known contact can be traced to other infected individuals.
  • Contactless: without contact; for example, “contactless delivery” would include leaving purchased items at the entryway of a home rather than handing it directly to a person.
  • Contact tracing: identifying and monitoring people who may have come into contact with an infectious person. In the case of COVID-19, monitoring usually involves self-quarantine as an effort to control the spread of disease.
  • Epidemic: a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community or geographic area.
  • Epidemic curve: a graph or chart depicting the progression of an outbreak in a particular population.
  • Epidemiology: a branch of medicine which deals largely with public health, including the incidence, distribution, analysis and control of diseases.
  • Epidemic curve: a graph or chart depicting the progression of an outbreak in a particular population.
  • Incubation period: the time between when an individual is first exposed to the virus and the appearance of symptoms. A person’s level of contagion before symptoms arise is not known, although most experts believe people are most contagious after they begin exhibiting symptoms.
  • Physical Distance: Physical distancing, also called social distancing, means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household. Also called social distancing.
  • COVID-19 Tests:
    • PolymerasePolymerise chain reaction (PCR) Testing: The COVID-19 PCR tests detect the genetic information of the virus, the RNA. By detecting viral RNA, which will be present in the body before antibodies form or symptoms of the disease are present, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early on. PCR tests look for pieces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the nose, throat, or other areas in the respiratory tract to determine if the person has an active infection. A positive PCR test means that the person being tested has an active COVID-19 infection.
    • Antigen Tests: Antigen tests look for pieces of proteins that make up the SARSCoV-2 virus to determine if the person has an active infection. A positive antigen test means that the person being tested has an active COVID-19 infection.
    • Antibody (serology) test: Serology looks for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in the blood to determine if there was a past infection. A positive antibody test means that the person being tested was infected with COVID-19 in the past and that their immune system developed antibodies to try to fight it off.
  • PPE: Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is specialized clothing and equipment used as a safeguard against health hazards including exposure to infectious diseases through physical contact or airborne particles. PPE is designed to protect parts of the body typically exposed in normal attire, including the nose, mouth, eyes, hands and feet. 
  • Presumptive Positive: The term “presumptive positive” is used when a patient has tested positive by a local public health laboratory but those results are still pending confirmation at a CDC lab.
  • Pre-symptomatic: An infected individual who is not yet displaying symptoms of an illness or disease.
  • PUI: Person under investigation, or a PUI, is an individual who is suspected of potentially having COVID-19.
  • Screening: The act of verifying symptoms and potential exposure before testing for the virus.
  • Self-quarantine: Choosing to separate yourself from others if you have been exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus), but are not symptomatic to help prevent the spread of the virus. A voluntary quarantine is recommended for people who are returning from impacted areas or who have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Self-isolation:  The separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with COVID-19 with or without a positive test. Isolation may be voluntary or compelled by a public health order. 
  • Social Distance: (see Physical Distancing)
  • Symptomatic: Showing symptoms of COVID-19, which can include a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and body aches. Health officials believe the risk of transmitting the virus is highest when an individual is symptomatic.