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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Quick Reference Guide

Coronavirus (COVID-19) 
A guide based on recommendations from and as of March 12, 2020.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC, the main U.S. federal agency monitoring and responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak, has created a microsite with frequently updated information for health practitioners, researchers, and the general public. Of particular interest to the public is the Situation Summary, a quick overview with maps of reported coronavirus cases in the United States and globally.

Illinois Department of Public Health

Contains a section on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions.

You can also dial 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV to have all your COVID-19 questions answered.



Intended for the general public, this health encyclopedia and information portal produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine provides background on coronaviruses, along with updated information and links concerning the 2019 novel coronavirus. Users can also search MedlinePlus for links to high-quality health and medical information from other government agencies and trusted third-party organizations.


World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO, a leading international health agency helping to coordinate the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, offers global news updates and helpful videos, answers common questions (Should I wear a mask to protect myself? How does this virus spread?), and dispels myths (no, gargling with mouthwash won’t protect against the virus).


News and Updates


New York Times

The New York Times provides excellent coverage of the novel coronavirus in its Health section. This dedicated page collects enlightening stories, graphics, and updates about the situation. Although provides free access to only a limited number of articles per month, the coronavirus landing page and headlines are free to browse. Those libraries or individuals with subscriptions to the site will find it an invaluable source of information.


Science News

This news site published by the nonprofit Society for Science & the Public has created a page dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak, featuring stories by their staff writers. While there are fewer coronavirus articles here than on other sites, these pieces are nevertheless thorough, well documented, and free for all to read.


Time has curated stories about the outbreak. This site is free to search and read.


A roundup of more academic resources on the coronavirus, including normally paywalled journal articles made free by publishers.


Though it’s too soon for books about the coronavirus, the following titles will be valuable to readers seeking general information on viruses, public health, and epidemiology— topics relevant to the effort to contain the novel coronavirus.

Crawford, Dorothy. Viruses: A Very Short Introduction. 2d ed. 2018. Oxford Univ. ISBN 9780198811718.

This recent entry in Oxford’s “Very Short Introductions” series is the perfect starting point for those interested in viruses, their role in the environment, and attempts to combat and prevent the diseases they cause. Like all works in this series, this is an essential, insightful, and concise introduction to a complex topic. New for the second edition is a discussion of recent epidemics caused by the Ebola, Zika, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome viruses, which serve as prologues to current efforts to fight the 2019 novel coronavirus.


Davidson, Tish. Vaccines: History, Science, and Issues. Greenwood. 2017. ISBN 9781440844430.

Global efforts to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus have been making headlines; thanks to technology advances, this will take a matter of months, rather than years or even decades as in the past. Davidson provides an accessible introduction to the science behind vaccines and their development.


Doherty, Peter C. Pandemics: What Everyone Needs To Know. Oxford Univ. 2013. ISBN 9780199898121.

Although the novel coronavirus outbreak has not yet been declared a pandemic, the trajectory of other recent viral outbreaks suggests that this is a distinct possibility. In question-and-answer format, Doherty, corecipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Medicine, discusses pandemics, how infectious diseases spread, and tools to contain and prevent them on a global scale.

Preston, Richard. Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks To Come. Random. 2019. ISBN 9780812998832.

Preston (The Hot Zone) offers an immersive account of the 2013–14 Ebola outbreak, which, unlike in the past, spread across the globe. Readers interested in the trajectory of deadly diseases will be spellbound.


Rhodes, John. The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease. St. Martin’s. 2013. ISBN 9781137278524.

Those interested in a deeper look at the history of vaccine development will appreciate this thorough look at humanity’s efforts to eradicate infectious disease. Largely focusing on the battles against smallpox and polio, this is a detailed, scholarly companion to Tish Davidson’s broad-based review of vaccines.

Snowden, Frank M. Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. Yale Univ. 2019. ISBN 9780300192216.

Snowden (Conquest of Malaria) explores the history of epidemics through a socio-cultural lens, examining the conditions that have given rise to historical epidemics and their impact. The focus is on major case studies from the sweep of recorded history, but Snowden also looks at emerging and reemerging diseases and the recent outbreaks of SARS and Ebola.


Buss, Stephen. “What Public Libraries Need to Know About the Coronavirus.” Library Journal, Feb 05, 2020. 

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