The purpose of this language and messaging frameworks guide follows recent provocations of social stigma and discriminatory behaviors against people of certain ethnic backgrounds as well as anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus. The intent of this guidance is to support Buncombe County’s commitment to equity and to aide in content development, which stands in alignment with Statewide COVID-19 response efforts guided by compassion and reason. Provided by Buncombe County Officials.
Language/Messaging Frameworks to Avoid & Alternatives:
DO – talk about the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
DON’T – attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a “Wuhan Virus”, “Chinese Virus” or “Asian Virus”
- The official name for the disease was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization – the “co” stands for Corona, “vi” for virus and “d” for disease, 19 is because the disease emerged in 2019.
DO – talk about “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19”, “people who are recovering from COVID-19” or “people who died after contracting COVID19”
DON’T – refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases” or “victims”.
DO – talk about “people who may have COVID-19” or “people who are presumptive for COVID-19”
DON’T – talk about “COVID-19 suspects” or “suspected cases”.
DO – talk about people “acquiring” or “contracting” COVID-19
DON’T – talk about people “transmitting COVID-19” “infecting others” or “spreading the virus” as it implies intentional transmission and assigns blame.
- Using criminalizing or dehumanizing terminology creates the impression that those with the disease have somehow done something wrong or are less human than therest of us, feeding stigma, undermining empathy, and potentially fueling wider reluctance to seek treatment or attend screening, testing and quarantine.
DO – speak accurately about the risk from COVID-19, based on scientific data and latest official health advice.
DON’T – repeat or share unconfirmed rumors, and avoid using hyperbolic language designed to generate fear like “plague”, “apocalypse” etc.
DO – talk positively and emphasize the effectiveness of treatment measures.
- For most people, this is a disease they can overcome.
- There are simple steps we can all take to keep ourselves, our loved ones and the most vulnerable safe.
DON’T – emphasize or dwell on the negative, or messages of threat. We need to work together to help keep those who are most vulnerable safe.
TERMS & LANGUAGE TO AVOID:
- “Wuhan Virus”
- “Chinese Virus” or “Asian Virus
- “COVID-19 cases” or “Victims”
- “Hot Zones”
- “Plague” or “Apocalypse”
- COVID-19 Level 2 or COVID-19 Level 3 w/ official Geographic Name
- “People who have COVID-19”; “People who are being treated for COVID-19”; “People who are recovering from COVID-19” or “People who died after contracting COVID19”
COVID-19 Terminology & Definitions – provided by Buncombe County officials:
Active monitoring – means that the state or local public health authority assumes responsibility for establishing regular communication with potentially exposed people to assess for the presence of fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
- For people with high-risk exposures, CDC recommends this communication occurs at least once each day. The mode of communication can be determined by the state or local public health authority and may include telephone calls or any electronic or internet-based means of communication.
Asymptomatic – presenting no symptoms (CDC).
Close Contact –
- Being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case.
- Have had direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on).
Community Spread/Community Transmission/Community-Acquired Spread – Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected (CDC).
Confirmed – The patient meets all the criteria necessary to be considered a Patient Under Investigation (PUI), including signs, symptoms and travel history.
- A lab sample was collected and tested by a CDC-qualified laboratory and the result is positive.
Congregate: The person has been relocated to any other congregate typesetting (e.g. long term care facility, public housing, university housing) administered by routine operating authorities.
Congregate Settings – Crowded public places where close contact with others may occur, such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums.
Coronavirus – A large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.
- In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19 (WHO).
COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) – The infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus.
- This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 (WHO).
Delegated Supervision – The local public health authority has delegated oversight to an appropriate occupational health or infection control program at a trusted organization (e.g. healthcare, higher education, corporation).
- The delegated supervisor maintains coordination with the public health department of local jurisdiction.
Direct Medical – the person is under the direct continuous clinical care of a healthcare provider in a clinical setting (e.g. inpatient at a hospital or isolated to a government facility) established by the CDC with regards to travel history and/or close contact with a confirmed case, but the individual is not exhibiting any additional signs or symptoms consistent with infection.
Exposed – The person meets the criteria established by the CDC with regards to travel history and/or close contact with a confirmed case, but the individual is not exhibiting any additional signs or symptoms consistent with infection.
Involuntary – The person has been compelled by a court order to abide by legally enforceable directives issued under the authority of a relevant federal, state or local entity that, when applied to a person or group, may place restrictions on the activities undertaken by that person or group, potentially including movement restrictions or a requirement for monitoring by a public health authority, for the purposes of protecting the public’s health.
Isolation – The separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Isolation for public health purposes may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health orders (CDC).
Laboratory Confirmed COVID-19 Case – Individuals with at least one respiratory specimen that tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 at a CDC laboratory (CDC).
Mitigation Strategies – Community actions designed to help keep people healthy, reduce exposures to COVID-19, and slow the spread of the disease such as social distancing (CDC).
Monitoring: A state or local public health authority establishes regular communication with a person or group of people who were potentially exposed to the virus by virtue of travel history to identified locations or close contact with confirmed cases.
- The person is instructed to monitor for and report certain signs and symptoms of potential illness to the health authority. There are no movement restrictions applied to this individual.
Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) – Actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like pandemic influenza (flu).
- NPIs are also known as community mitigation strategies. When a new flu virus spreads among people, causing illness worldwide, it is called pandemic flu.
- Because a pandemic flu virus is new, the human population has little or no immunity against it. This allows the virus to spread quickly from person to person worldwide. NPIs are among the best ways of controlling pandemic flu when vaccines are not yet available (CDC).
Non-legal – The person is not subject to any legally enforceable directives. The person voluntarily agrees to adhere to non-binding guidance provided by public health or healthcare officials.
Novel Coronavirus – A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified.
- The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold (CDC).
Person Under Investigation (PUI) – A person under investigation is an ill person with possible novel coronavirus infection.
- The number of PUIs who test positive and negative will be reported on the CDC and DOH website.
Person Under Public Health Supervision – People who may have had a COVID- 19 exposure because they were a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case or because they traveled from an affected geographic area.
- They are instructed to self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days from the time of their exposure, and to report to the local health department if they develop symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing. The CDC may change this definition as the situation evolves. (CDC)
Presumptive Positive – A presumptive positive case has tested positive by a public health laboratory and is pending confirmatory testing at CDC. (CDC)
Public Health Supervision – the person is monitored directly by local public health authorities, in-person or remotely, on a regular basis (e.g. daily).
Quarantine – the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease (CDC).
SARS-CoV-2 – The name of the virus that causes coronavirus disease, COVID-19. As the name indicates, the virus is related to the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that caused an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003, however, it is not the same virus (CDC).
Self-monitoring with Delegated Supervision – for certain occupational groups (e.g., some health care or laboratory personnel, airline crew members), self-monitoring with oversight by the appropriate occupational health or infection control program in coordination with the health department of jurisdiction.
- The occupational health or infection control personnel for the employing organization should establish points of contact between the organization, the self-monitoring personnel, and the local or state health departments with jurisdiction for the location where personnel will be during the self-monitoring period.
- This communication should result in agreement on a plan for medical evaluation of personnel who develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period.
- The plan should include instructions for notifying occupational health and the local public health authority, and transportation arrangements to a pre-designated hospital, if medically necessary, with advance notice if fever, cough, or difficulty breathing occur.
- The supervising organization should remain in contact with personnel through the self-monitoring period to oversee self-monitoring activities.
Self-monitoring – People should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperature twice a day and remain alert for a cough or difficulty breathing.
- If they feel feverish or develop measured fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, they should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a health care provider or their local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.
Self-observation – People should remain alert for subjective fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.
- If they feel feverish or develop cough or difficulty breathing during the self-observation period, they should take their temperature, self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a health care provider or their local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.
Social distancing – remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, ride share), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others.
- If social distancing is recommended, presence in congregate settings or use of local public transportation should only occur with the approval of local or state health authorities (CDC).
Suspected – The patient meets all the criteria necessary to be considered a Patient Under Investigation, including signs, symptoms and travel history.
- A lab sample was collected and sent to a CDC-qualified lab, but the results are still pending.
Treatment – A person is currently receiving active medical treatment for their COVID-19 symptoms and/or related complications.
Voluntary – The person has voluntarily agreed to comply with legally enforceable directives issued under the authority of a relevant federal, state, or local entity that, when applied to a person or group, may place restrictions on the activities undertaken by that person or group, potentially including movement restrictions or a requirement for monitoring by a public health authority, for the purposes of protecting the public’s health.
Source – World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus