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COVID-19 Glossary of Terms


Coronavirus or COVID-19 - According to the CDC, COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practice for naming of new human infectious diseases. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) - According to their website, CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

CDC increases the health security of our nation. As the nation’s health protection agency, CDC saves lives and protects people from health threats. To accomplish its mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats and responds when these arise.

Cluster or Outbreak Clusters - According to CNN, a disease cluster or infection cluster is a group of similar health events that have occurred in the same area around the same time. You may have heard some new cases of the current coronavirus described as "outbreak clusters."

Community mitigation strategies - As they relate to COVID-19, the CDC defines community mitigation strategies as actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like pandemic influenza (flu). Also known as non-pharmaceutical interventions. When a new flu virus spreads among people, causing illness worldwide, it is called pandemic flu. Because a pandemic flu virus is new, the human population has little or no immunity against it. This allows the virus to spread quickly from person to person worldwide. NPIs are among the best ways of controlling pandemic flu when vaccines are not yet available.

Community Spread - According to the CDC, community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

COVID-19 Symptoms - According to the CDC, Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

COVID-19 Screening - Health screenings are an important step in determining if you might be ill. Some screenings may be completed by phone. When and if you need to be screened for COVID-19, contact the following:

Students – Redfern Health Center (864-656-2457)
Employees – Joseph F. Sullivan Center (864-656-2457)

COVID-19 CDC-developed Diagnostic Test - According to the CDC, it has developed a new laboratory test kit for use in testing patient specimens for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

Epidemic - As defined by CNN, an epidemic is a situation where a disease spreads rapidly among many people, and in a higher concentration than normal. It is on a smaller scale, however, than a pandemic. The global COVID-19 outbreak is considered to be an epidemic, though there are fears among governments and medical communities that it could become a pandemic.

Epidemic Threshold - As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), epidemic threshold is the critical number or density of susceptible hosts required for an epidemic to occur. The epidemic threshold is used to confirm the emergence of an epidemic so as to step-up appropriate control measures.

Non-Pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) - As they relate to COVID-19, the CDC defines non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) as actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like pandemic influenza (flu). NPIs are also known as community mitigation strategies. When a new flu virus spreads among people, causing illness worldwide, it is called pandemic flu. Because a pandemic flu virus is new, the human population has little or no immunity against it. This allows the virus to spread quickly from person to person worldwide. NPIs are among the best ways of controlling pandemic flu when vaccines are not yet available.

Novel - As defined by CNN, novel simply means "new." A novel coronavirus is a strain that hasn't been detected in humans before. The virus responsible for the current epidemic is often called the novel coronavirus.

Outbreak - As defined by CNN, an outbreak is a higher-than-normal rate of occurrence of a disease. The terms epidemic and pandemic are often used to describe the magnitude or nature of an outbreak or series of outbreaks. In other words, think of outbreak as the building block of several other coronavirus-related terms.

Person-to-person - As defined by CNN, person-to-person spread means the virus has been transmitted due to close contact between people, whether the interaction involves actual physical contact or just a cough or sneeze in close quarters. This is different than when a disease is spread via contaminated surfaces or via animals. This current coronavirus strain is believed to be spread mainly through person-to-person contact.

Prevention - CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Public health emergency - As defined by CNN, a public health emergency is an official designation made by a government body. It's called different things in different countries and is enacted by different groups therein. In the U.S., a public health emergency (PHE) is determined by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Such a designation can help the government access special funds and resources to address the emergency. Similarly, a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) is a larger global designation that can be determined by the World Health Organization. The WHO designated the novel coronavirus a PHEIC in late January 2020.

As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), A public health emergency (the condition that requires the governor to declare a state of public health emergency) is defined as "an occurrence or imminent threat of an illness or health condition, caused by bio terrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease, or (a) novel and highly fatal infectious agent or biological toxin, that poses a substantial risk of a significant number of human facilities or incidents or permanent or long-term disability (WHO/DCD, 2001). The declaration of a state of public health emergency permits the governor to suspend state regulations, change the functions of state agencies.

Quarantine - According to the CDC, quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.

Reduction in classroom density - One of many of Clemson’s academic continuity plans to address COVID-19, a reduction in classroom density is the effort to reduce class sizes whereby the risk for person-to-person contact is reduced.

Resilience - According to the CDC, resilience is the ability to withstand and recover from stress.

SARS-CoV-2 - The current coronavirus strain. See COVID-19

Self-Isolation - The CDC’s recommended protocol for a person with symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and those with suspected COVID-19 who do not need to be hospitalized.

Stay home except to get medical care

You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

For additional self-isolation guidance, refer to the CDC’s guide.

Social Distancing - As defined by CNN, social distancing is a way of preventing the spread of contagious illnesses, as suggested by the World Health Organization. "Social distancing" doesn't mean staying inside. It means keeping a generous amount of personal space in between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This will prevent you from inhaling the majority of the droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing, which can carry the virus. SEE Reduction in classroom density.

It is recommended that even in the company of others, one should maintain a distance of no less than six feet.

Stigma - According to the CDC, a stigma occurs when people associate a risk with a specific people, place, or thing – like a minority population group – and there is no evidence that the risk is greater in that group than in the general population. Stigmatization is especially common in disease outbreaks.

Symptomatic - As defined by CNN, symptomatic simply means someone is showing symptoms of a particular illness or a disease. For COVID-19, that would include things like fever, cough or shortness of breath. Being symptomatic is an important part of the coronavirus conversation. Health officials believe the risk of getting the virus is highest when one comes into contact with someone who is symptomatic. However, there have been questions raised as to whether the disease can also be spread before someone shows signs of it (also known as pre-symptomatic).

World Health Organization (WHO) - According to their website, WHO, as the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations system, adheres to the UN values of integrity, professionalism and respect for diversity.

The values of the WHO workforce furthermore reflect the principles of human rights, universality and equity established in WHO’s Constitution as well as the ethical standards of the Organization.

These values are inspired by the WHO vision of a world in which all peoples attain the highest possible level of health, and our mission to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable, with measurable impact for people at country level. We are individually and collectively committed to put these values into practice.


Pandemic Alert Level 1 - Clemson’s Pandemic Alert Level 1 equals the World Health Organization (WHO) Phase 3: Human infections with new subtype, but no sustained human-to-human spread.

Elevated Pandemic Risk Level 2 - Clemson’s Elevated Pandemic Risk Level 2 equals the World Health Organization (WHO) Phase 4: Small, highly localized clusters anywhere in the world with limited human-to-human transmission.

Pandemic Imminent Level 3 - Clemson’s Pandemic Imminent Level 3 equals the World Health Organization (WHO) Phase 5: Person-to-person spread of pandemic within local communities anywhere in the world.

Pandemic Period Level 4 - Clemson’s Pandemic Period Level 4 equals the World Health Organization (WHO) Phase 6: Increased and sustained transmission in the general population.


Academic Continuity Plan (ACP) - A strategic plan to address any potential disruption to the University’s academic calendar. For example, many universities are encountering multiple cases of measles and mumps.

Academic Continuity Plan Testing - A one-day exercise to test the plan’s ability to manage the potential interruptions to Clemson’s academic calendar.

eLearning Solutions - The predominant tool used by the University’s faculty and students to prevent interruptions to the academic calendar.

Academic Continuity Plan Community - Clemson’s faculty, staff and students who collectively support Clemson’s plan through a variety of roles and responsibilities.

Canvas - A learning management platform allowing Clemson to build its digital learning environment to meet the unique challenges faced by their institution, including disruptions.

Canvas is made up of a powerful set of highly integrated learning products that allow institutions to get all of the functionality they need and none that they don’t.

Kuali - Clemson’s choice among several higher ed continuity planning software vendors. Addresses continuity of both business and academic needs.

Business Continuity Plans - Plans developed with each of an institution’s agencies to allow for the uninterrupted service of essential operations despite potentially disruptive situations such as floods, earthquakes and pandemics.


International Travel - Travel to other countries outside the United States of America.

Domestic Travel - Travel within the United States of America.

Travel Layover - Travel through another airport while in route to your final destination. Often referred to as travel “through”.

Hand Sanitizer - According to the CDC, if soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Hand Washing - For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.