Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Ericka L. Kalp, PhD, MPH, CIC, FAPIC Epidemiologist, Program Manager

Healthcare-Associated Infection Prevention/Antimicrobial Stewardship
Pennsylvania Department of Health

Julie Paoline, MA, CPHA, CIC, FAPIC Public Health Specialist

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Anna Riddle, RN, CIC Nursing Services Consultant

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz, PhD, MPH, CIC, FAPIC Associate Professor

Assistant Director, Center for Infection Prevention and Antibiotic Stewardship
Thomas Jefferson University - College of Nursing

Judi Sedivy, BSN, MPH, CIC Epidemiology Research Associate

Pennsylvania Department of Health 

Revised Publication:
March 30, 2021
Original Publication:
November 29, 2020
Declarations of Conflicts of Interest:
  • Ericka L. Kalp reports no conflicts of interest.
  • Julie Paoline reports no conflicts of interest.
  • Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz reports no conflicts of interest.
  • Anna Riddle reports no conflicts of interest.
  • Judi Sedivy reports no conflicts of interest.


COVID-19, the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), emerged in China in 2019 and quickly transmitted throughout the world, leading to the most severe pandemic since influenza ravaged the world in 1918. Causing massive morbidity and mortality, COVID-19 manifested predominantly as a respiratory illness easily spread by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic infected individuals. This pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic spread, coupled with a long incubation period (up to 14 days), made successful containment and mitigation particularly challenging. COVID-19 disproportionately affected individuals aged 65 and older and people of color, especially in the first few months of the pandemic, and state and federal government entities were focused on “flattening the curve” to prevent infected individuals from overwhelming healthcare settings, as intensive care beds and ventilators were in finite supply. Efforts to flatten the curve resulted in total or near-total shutdown of daily activities in the United States and other parts of the world. In the U.S., state governments, in various stages, mandated stay-at-home orders, which included shutting down businesses, schools, and other nonessential, non-life-sustaining operations. However, as the pandemic became more widespread, political and economic pressures led to sometimes premature reopening of states and businesses and viral resurgence as restrictions eased. Within the first five months, COVID-19 sickened nearly 50 million people worldwide (10 million in the U.S.) and killed 1.3 million individuals (240,000 in the U.S.).Ref 74-1 Johns Hopkins University and Medicine. Coronavirus resource center. Accessed October 9, 2020. - You do not have permission to view this object.

In no other time has the role of the infection preventionist been more crucial. Infection preventionists in all types of healthcare settings have been called upon to implement lifesaving infection prevention and control measures, and will continue to serve in this critical, evolving role, which will require ongoing education, flexibility, and leadership.