Skip to main content

Coronavirus Information

The University of Houston-Downtown continues to monitor updates related to the Coronavirus. At this time, no cases have been reported in Texas, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the immediate health risk to the American public is considered low.

map of corona virus casesCoronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE


Since its identification in December 2019, the virus has undergone several name changes. The World Health Organization was officially named the virus "COVID-19". Other associated names include 2019 Novel Coronavirus and 2019-nCov.
Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. For this reason, experts recommend erring on the side of caution and washing your hands often. Typically, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
The majority of people who are infected will have mild cold-like symptoms that will resolve in a few days. Others will have more severe symptoms that include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and in severe cases, pneumonia.
To date, there is no specific medicine to treat the new coronavirus. However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care in a hospital setting.
To date, there is no specific medicine to treat the new coronavirus. However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care in a hospital setting.
No, there is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection from coronaviruses. Some brands of mouthwash can eliminate certain microbes for a few minutes.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • The most effective way to protect yourself is by washing your hands a lot. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep hand sanitizer in your backpack, briefcase, or purse. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. When using hand sanitizer, place sanitizer on hands and rub together for about 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or cough into your sleeve.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. The average person touches their face about 15-20 times per hour.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill when infected with the virus. However, all people are susceptible to becoming infected and spreading the virus further.
At present, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you from various common bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.
While this has been suggested by some researchers and repeated by some political leaders, the fact is we simply do not know at this point.
  1. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  2. Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
  3. San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
  4. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
  5. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
  6. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California
  7. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
  8. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia
  9. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
  10. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
  11. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Michigan
These are airports where enhanced public health services and protocols are being implemented. This list of affected airports may be modified by the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Transportation. This list of affected airports may be modified by an updated publication in the Federal Register or by posting an advisory to follow at
There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged coronavirus and how it spreads. Two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS and SARS). COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS than MERS, but both are betacoronaviruses with their origins in bats. While we don’t know for sure that this virus will behave the same way as SARS and MERS, we can use the information from both of these earlier coronaviruses to guide us. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of virus spread in the United States associated with imported goods. Information will be provided on the COVID-19/2019 Novel Coronavirus website as it becomes available.
Currently there is a lot of misinformation and rumor. For validated information, only refer to official government websites such as:

Last updated 2/14/2020 12:57 PM