What Does It Mean? A Guide to the Coronavirus Terminology

Health and wellness March 19, 2020 By First United Bank

Outbreak vs. Endemic vs. Pandemic

An outbreak refers to a number of cases that exceeds what would be expected. The term endemic refers to when there is an infection within a geographic location that is existing perpetually.
A pandemic refers to a global epidemic — one that has spread over several countries or continents affecting a large number of people. A pandemic is when there is an outbreak that affects most of the world.

Social Distancing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes social distancing as staying away from mass gatherings and keeping a distance of 6 feet – about one body length – away from other people. Social distancing also means not touching other people, and that includes handshakes.


This means staying put, isolating yourself from others because there is a reasonable possibility you have been exposed to someone with an illness.


A mandatory quarantine occurs when government authorities indicate that a person must stay in one place, for instance their home or a facility, for 14 days. Mandatory quarantines can be ordered for people who test negative for the virus, but have likely been exposed.


The coronavirus is actually not one type of virus; it is a large family of viruses that also includes SARS and other minor to major respiratory illnesses. Coronaviruses can be spread between animals and people, as we have seen with this current strain. The term "corona," which is from a Latin root meaning crown or ring of light, refers to the shape of the virus under a microscope.


COVID-19 is the specific illness related to the current epidemic. The acronym, provided by the World Health Organization, stands for "coronavirus disease 2019," referring to the year the virus was first detected. The name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2.


Simply meaning "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.

Resources to help with understanding different words relating to the coronavirus:

By First United Bank