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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, or “coronavirus disease 2019,” is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus. People infected with the virus may experience fever, coughing, fatigue, headache, and other symptoms. Some may experience severe illness, while others may have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles
SARS-CoV-2 virus particles

Courtesy: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Visualizing the Spread

How has COVID-19 spread across the United States? Play the video below to find out.

Data visualization provided by HealthMap. To access the most up-to-date data, visit

Approaches to treating the disease and preventing its spread

  • Individual actions

    Individual actions

    Individuals can protect themselves and those around them by washing their hands often, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and wearing a face cover when in public.

  • Contact tracing

    Contact tracing

    Contact tracing involves identifying individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and notifying them of the possible exposure.

  • Diagnostic testing

    Diagnostic testing

    Diagnostic testing can assess whether someone is actively infected with the virus.

  • Antibody testing

    Antibody testing

    Antibody testing can determine whether someone has previously been infected with COVID-19 by detecting specific antibodies (infection-fighting proteins) in their blood.

    • Convalescent plasma therapy

      Convalescent plasma therapy

      Convalescent plasma therapy involves supplying at-risk or infected individuals with antibodies via the blood plasma of recovered patients. It is an experimental treatment for COVID-19 that has been used to treat many other diseases.

    • Drug development

      Drug development

      Scientists are investigating a variety of drug treatments for COVID-19. Ultimately, a combination of drugs may be required.

    • Vaccine development

      Vaccine development

      A COVID-19 vaccine would allow people to develop an immunity to the disease. If infected, they would recover more quickly or avoid illness altogether.

    Find out more

    Ask a Virtual Expert: COVID Conversations with Dr. Jha: Dr. Ashish Jha answers your questions about COVID-19.

    Provocative Questions: Form your opinion on the use of digital contact tracing in Massachusetts.