UPDATE: How Does the Government Help in Health Emergencies?

Workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are assisting public health partners as they respond to a potential outbreak of coronavirus.


The coronavirus has become serious in the United States. Its official name is COVID-19. Many schools and businesses have closed. Many people should practice social distancing, or limiting how much contact they have with people to stop the spread of the virus. During this time, here are some things to remember.

  • Governments, schools, and adults all over the country are working to keep people safe and healthy.
  • Do not jump to conclusions about who may or may not have COVID-19. Treat everyone with respect and kindness.
  • You can do things to avoid spreading the virus. Wash your hands. Limit how much you go out into crowds.
  • Many people are feeling nervous or scared. If you feel this way, talk to an adult you trust about how you are feeling.
  • If you are in a community where daily life is disrupted, you can look for ways to adapt to a new routine. Check back at IMPACT News to learn about ways people are learning and working from home.

The novel coronavirus started in 2019 in China and spread around the world. People who get sick from the virus might have mild symptoms, like a cough or fever, or more serious symptoms, like pneumonia. Scientists have already begun working on vaccines for the virus, but experts say that the best ways to protect yourself from this virus is to wash hands frequently and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

What do experts do when there are diseases that could affect a great deal of people? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) constantly monitors for disease levels around the world. They classify diseases based on how many regions or countries are affected. An epidemic, for example, might be limited to a small geographical area. A pandemic involves several countries or continents.

There’s not one single way to respond to a public health emergency. But there are many things that the government can do during an outbreak of disease. The CDC works with the World Health Organization to monitor the number of cases and to help with treatment if local authorities need assistance. In some cases, officials might mandate a quarantine. That means that people who have a disease might not be able to travel to other countries or they may need to stay at home until they aren’t contagious. Government agencies also release information about treatment and prevention of disease. Be careful to look for real news sources and be aware of rumors. This will help you stay healthy.

What Do You Think? Why is it important to find accurate information about illness? How does the government help?

Photo Credit: James Gathany/CDC