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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)


What is Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

State, local, and federal health officials are continuously monitoring and responding to an on-going outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Cases have been identified globally, including within the United States.  Coronaviruses are not a new family of viruses and are common in different species of animals including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. In humans, there are multiple strains that can cause mild respiratory symptoms or even the common cold.  In years’ prior, other strains have been associated with SARS and MERS.

What is currently understood about COVID-19 is that it spreads person-to-person among close contacts via respiratory droplets produced from coughs or sneezes. It is also possible to spread COVID-19 via touching infected surfaces and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.

With an incubation period that lasts 2-14 days, symptoms associated with COVID-19 include mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Spread in the absence of symptoms is possible, however those who are symptomatic are the most contagious.

Preparedness is key as we plan for the identification of additional cases in the days ahead. The American Nurses Association supports ongoing efforts to address and prevent the community spread of COVID-19 along with the rapid development and identification of solutions to protect nurses, healthcare teams, and the public. As the situation continues to rapidly evolve, ANA will continue to closely monitor the outbreak.

What Nurses Need to Know

  1. Preparedness, Early Identification, and Notification

    All nurses and the health care team must receive the highest level of protection to provide care for the individuals and communities in which they serve. It is essential to develop and educate ALL staff on preparedness plans that provide infection control procedures and protocols used within the health care facility for the early identification, containment, and care of patients with symptoms associated with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) to prevent spread within the facility. 

    • Develop inpatient, ambulatory, and home care policies and procedures that are in line with current CDC guidelines for COVID-19
    • Provide training to all personnel on screening and isolation procedures
    • Provide updated training and guidelines on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including the use of N-95 respirators, gloves, gowns, masks, eye protection, and a face shields
    • Display clear signage with instructions for access and use of PPE
    • Ensure consistent use of proper hand hygiene, standard precautions, contact precautions, and airborne precautions, along with the proper use of a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-Approved N-95 respirator or higher
    • Clearly display signage for patients that lists symptoms and instructions to wear a face mask before entering the healthcare facility if symptoms are present.
    • Incorporate assessment questions to document a detailed travel and community exposure history when patients present with fever, cough, or respiratory illness. 
    • Identify, in advance, airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR) or negative pressure rooms, for quarantine and screening
    • Outline staffing protocols to facilitate care of patients with COVID-19 to minimize patient-to-patient and patient to health care worker transmission
    • Develop a telephone triage protocol for patients to access from home to minimize community based transmission
    • Have available for immediate notification of Patient’s Under Investigation (PUI) the infection control personnel at your facility and the local and state health department. Click here for additional Recommendations for Reporting, Testing, and Specimen Collection and the fillable COVID-19 PUI case investigation form
    • For Patients Under Investigation (PUI), follow the Criteria to Guide Evaluation of PUI for COVID-19

  2. Isolation, Quarantine, Monitoring, and Hospitalization

    The CDC recommends several steps for identification and maintenance of COVID-19 along with detailed guidelines for isolation precautions to prevent transmission. Have clearly displayed a flowchart for early identification and assessment of COVID-19 At this time, the modes of transmission include respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes and tranmission by touching the eyes, nose, or mouth after contact with an infected surface.

    1. Have masks available for PUI to don before entering the healthcare facility
    2. Once identified, isolate the patient to airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR) or negative pressure room and keep the door closed. Conduct the assessment in this room.
    3. Healthcare personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, airborne precautions, and eye protection (goggles or a face shield)
    4. Don Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before entering the room
    5. Have guidelines for the proper use of PPE displayed throughout the healthcare facility
    6. Have infection control personnel available to provide just-in-time training on proper PPE use
    7. Notify your infection control personnel and the local and state health department of suspected cases

  3. How to Educate Your Patients and Minimize Spread within the Community

    Per the CDC, it is known that coronavirus is part of a large family of viruses that can cause illness in people and animals.1 It is known that COVID-19 is spread via respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. It is also possible to spread COVID-19 by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching an infected surface. The CDC provides the following guidance to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading among people in homes and communities4:

    • STAY HOME except to get medical care, do not use public transportation or taxis if sick
    • Call first before visiting your healthcare provider. Notify them of your symptoms and the need for evaluation for COVID-19. Follow the instructions provided by your healthcare team
    • Separate yourself from other people in your home, utilize a separate bathroom
    • Wear a facemask as instructed if you are sick
    • Use your elbow to cover your coughs and sneezes
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
    • Avoid sharing household items
    • Monitor your symptoms
    • For a full list of guidelines and recommended actions for preventing the spread of Coronavirus visit

Information for Healthcare Consumers

Protection and education are essential in the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, and upon returning home
  • Avoid shaking hands and opt for an elbow cross or fist bump as a greeting instead
  • To learn more, and to download information to share within your community, visit:

What you need to know

What to do if you are sick

Stop the spread of germs poster

Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019 poster

CDC’s guidelines to prevent spread within your home and community.


Information for People Traveling

The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China. If you must travel, or if you have traveled to Wuhan in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, the CDC outlines the following recommendations to minimize your risk

Volunteer Resources and Response

Nurses are reliable and proven responders during infectious disease emergencies, providing safe, quality, compassionate and nondiscriminatory care to their patients and the communities in which they serve. If you are looking for ways to volunteer your knowledge and skills, you can visit the following resources for ways to get involved.


  1. 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan China Transmission. (2020, January 24). Retrieved from
  2. 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan China Symptoms and Complications. (2020, January 24). Retrieved from

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