News and social media posts about COVID-19 are everywhere. I have seen it spelled both ways, but which is correct: coronavirus or corona virus? Is it one word or two words?
Regardless of what auto-correct and spell checks might tell you, the correct way to refer to this pandemic is: coronavirus (one word).
Here are a few other facts and references when writing about the pandemic and the disease. I hope it will be a handy cheatsheet for people writing about it online, but especially for teachers, parents, and kids.
The Meaning of Corona
The name corona refers to the shape of the virus. The word corona means crown in Latin. Under a microscope, the virus looks like a crown. Thus:
Corona (crown) + Virus = Coronavirus
What does COVID-19 stand for?
The technical term for the 2019-2020 Coronavirus pandemic is COVID-19. It isn’t the 19th Coronavirus. The number “19” refers to the year that it was first identified by the World Health Organization (December 2019).
COVID is short for coronavirus disease:
VI = VIrus
D = Disease
19 = 2019 (the year it was identified)
Other related acronyms:
MERS = Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
SARS = Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
COVID-19 vs. SARS-CoV-2
The specific name for the virus causing the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic is: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It is not the same disease as the SARS outbreak in 2003.
SARS-CoV-2 = The virus strain that causes COVID-19
COVID-19 = The infectious disease commonly referred to as the coronavirus, which was first identified in 2019.
Is Coronavirus capitalized?
In the same way we do not capitalize the word “flu” or even “influenza,” we do not capitalize coronavirus. (By the way, “flu” is actually short for “influenza,” which is short for various strains of the “influenza virus.”)
Helpful Coronavirus Reading and Resources
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak (World Health Organization)
Coronavirus FAQ (World Health Organization)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)