Skip to Content

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • A man in a green shirt holds up a testing swab while a masked healthcare worker observes, out of focus in the background

COVID-19 Basics

Take a look at this brief overview of what the novel coronavirus is, how you can recognize it and what you can do to mitigate the spread. This information will be updated as changes occur.

COVID-19 Facts

  • COVID-19, the disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus SARS Co-V-2, will remain part of our communities until there is a vaccine and most Americans develop immunity through past exposure or vaccination.  Thus, to reopen campus we all need to change our behaviors and adapt to the “new normal”.
  • Quality indicators of the state of coronavirus infections are the basic reproduction number (R0), the percent of daily positive tests, and the percent of population who has been tested.
    • When R0 is less than 1, when the percent of positive tests is 3% or less, and when at least 2% of the population is being tested, the virus is traditionally considered at normal levels versus elevated outbreak levels.
  • Risk of infection is a function of exposure, time, and use of appropriate public health mitigation practices such as social distancing and covering the face when in public.
    • The virus that causes COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet, or 2 arm lengths). It spreads through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes.
    • High risk activities include spending more than 15 minutes inside with crowds of people talking, laughing and not wearing face coverings or keeping 6 feet between them – i.e., a crowded bar.
      • Pool parties and BBQs and other outdoor events are also showing to be high-risk because people are not remaining 6 feet apart from one another and/or food and drinks are being shared.
    • Lower risk activities include time spent with one or two friends, being outdoors, consistent use of face coverings and social distancing, frequent hand washing and shorter visits.
    • Although coronavirus can be obtained by touching surfaces where the virus is present and then touching your ears, eyes, or nose, the primary mode of infection is through close contact with an infected individual without appropriate face coverings, social distancing, and not washing or sanitizing your hands.

Coronavirus Symptoms

Although people have reported a variety of symptoms, which range from mild to serve, common symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Coronavirus Myths


Myth 1

College-aged students will not get sick if they are infected with COVID-19.

Fact: Although most younger people do not get severely sick, there have been many young people (under the age of 30) who have died, sometimes without underlying health conditions.

Myth 2

COVID-19 is like the flu.

Fact: For most, the COVID-19 is not much worse than the flu, however, for many it is much worse than the flu. And it is much more contagious than the flu. Unlike the flu, a person with COVID-19 can spread the virus to other people before they even know they are infected.

Myth 3

It is better for us to all get COVID-19 now so we do not have to worry about it anymore.

Fact: Our understanding of the virus is still adapting, and there is currently no way to know what individual factors might lead to severe disease. While we have a good understanding that certain health conditions might place one at an increased risk, some healthy people have developed severe respiratory and cardiac disease. Additionally, there is a chance that while you might not have any personal clinical manifestations of disease, you could unknowingly spread the infection to others in your family, close friend circle or community that are at an increased risk of developing severe disease. It is best that you try to avoid infection for yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

Myth 4

The main purpose of wearing a mask is to protect myself from getting COVID-19.

Fact: Wearing a mask protects others from contracting the virus from someone in case he/she has the virus and does not know it. A mask can keep out some droplets from the virus, protecting the person wearing the mask. Importantly, though, it keeps most of the droplets and the COVID-19 virus of those who are infected inside the mask and doesn’t allow them to spread.  

Myth 5

If I don’t feel sick, I don’t have COVID-19.

Fact: Many people who have COVID-19 have no or minimal symptoms. Researchers are still trying to understand the prevalence of individuals that are “asymptomatic (no symptoms) spreading” the virus. Estimates are as high as two in five, or 40%, of people with COVID-19 have no or minimal symptoms. Because of the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is unknown, everyone should all take precautions like social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing to reduce the spread of infection.

Myth 6 

If I and everyone else wears a mask or face covering, there is no need to practice social distancing.

Fact: While it is less likely that you will catch COVID-19 in an area where all individuals are wearing a face covering, it is still important to practice social distancing to reduce your chance of being infected with COVID-19. 

Myth 7

If I am outdoors, I do not need to practice social distancing.

Fact: While it is less likely you will catch COVID-19 in open areas, it is still important to stay at least 6 feet away from others. Some people with COVID-19 have no symptoms and can spread the disease through respiratory droplets. 


Coronavirus Prevention

  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from other people.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wear face coverings when interacting with other people.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Avoid large gatherings – minimize your contact and interactions with groups.
  • Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces – especially your cell phone, keys, and other items you handled multiple times a day.
  • Do not share food, drinks, cigarettes, hookahs or any other item where multiple people’s mouths touch the item.
  • Do not use other people’s cell phones, computers, books, notebooks, or other items that people touch. Remember that everything you touch leaves your germs on it AND you pick up germs from the items you touch.
  • Avoid hugging, shaking hands or taking selfies with others. 

The best prevention occurs when you combine each of the prevention measures. Face coverings help protect others from you, but remaining 6 feet away from others (i.e., social distancing) and washing your hands frequently are the best things to do to avoid getting COVID-19.


Information on Face Coverings

  • People are asked to wear face coverings to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Because many people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic, wearing a face covering protects the public from you unknowingly spreading the virus to others.
  • Your mask should cover your face from the bridge of your nose to under your chin. It should be loose fitting but still secure enough to stay in place. Make sure you can talk and breathe easily with your mask in place. Once your face covering is on, you should not touch or move it.
  • When removing your face covering, remove it from the ear loops or ties, fold outside corners in half, and wash. Also wash you your hands after removing your face covering.
  • See how face coverings should be used on campus in the university's face coverings guidelines.

COVID-19 Testing

Wearing face coverings, remaining 6 feet apart from other people, practicing hand hygiene, testing, isolating individuals infected with the virus, and contact tracing are critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19.

  • If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, get tested as soon as possible and avoid interacting with other people until you have the test results.   
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive, avoid interacting with other people and call Student Health Services at 803-576-8511 to discuss your exposure and the timing of testing based on your situation.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 and believe it is potentially a workplace illness, call 803-576-8511 to report your positive status to the university and for medical guidance. Also, call the university’s Environmental Health and Safety office at 803-528-8191 to provide information about the potential workplace illness. Reporting is critical to compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines [pdf].
  • In the case of a positive diagnosis, it is also crucial for you to honestly participate in the contact tracing process.
    • Effective contact tracing relies on conducting interviews in a timely manner. Complying with requests for information from a contract tracer is an important expectation and a necessity as the University better understands and mitigates the spread of COVID-19.  Contact tracers will not pass judgment on where you have been or who you have been in close contact with. They simply need to know this information so they can reach out to those that might have been exposed to COVID-19. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.