March 27, 2020 / Grace Hauck, USA TODAY
Two months after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the United States, the nation has become the new epicenter of the worldwide pandemic.
More than 1,300 people have died in the U.S. after contracting COVID-19, tens of thousands have been infected, and it’s still hard to get tested for the virus. As thousands of people continue to recover in China, where the outbreak began, health care systems in Europe and the U.S. are confronting a woeful lack of time and resources.
The situation continues to develop rapidly, and information about COVID-19 is still evolving. Here’s what we know about COVID-19.
- The coronavirus test that wasn’t: How federal health officials misled state scientists and derailed the best chance at containment. Read our investigation.
- We’ve been flooded with thousands of reader questions on coronavirus. We’re answering them.
- Fact check: Could your December cough actually have been coronavirus? Here’s what experts say.
- Get daily coronavirus updates in your inbox: Sign up for our newsletter now.
What is the coronavirus?
The novel coronavirus, officially called SARS-CoV-2, is part of a large family of viruses named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. The virus causes an illness called “coronavirus disease 2019,” or COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats and bats, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In rare instances, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people. At least two other coronaviruses have infected humans in the past: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.