Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences publishes coronavirus guide

March 3, 2020
Image of the microscopic virus
Centers for Disease Control, used with permission

Coronavirus is in the news and in the minds of many people today. What’s lacking is reliable information. To help fill that chasm between uncertainty and knowledge, VCU’s medical campus library offers a new research guide that compiles best-available information resources for lay people and medical professionals. The online guide is free and available to all although some resources may require academic login credentials at VCU. 

Research librarian John Cyrus, who is the liaison to the VCU School of Medicine, and student intern Sean Haupt at Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences authored the new guide. 

Because knowledge of the virus is growing hour-by-hour, “the guide will be regularly updated with the best information available from the most reliable sources,” Cyrus says. “During a public health emergency, having access to authoritative, up-to-date information is of the utmost importance for the general population, health professionals and researchers.”

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019. Also known as 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2, it is a major worldwide health concern having spread globally since the first infections were diagnosed in Wuhan, China. 

The new COVID-19 guide, part of a larger Disease Outbreaks Research Guide, provides quick access to reliable health information for the public, health professionals and researchers. The library routinely prepares research guides like these that are used by health sciences students and faculty.

The guide is separated into easily navigable sections including 

  • Online resources;
  • Worldwide outbreak maps and statistics;
  • Suggested search terms to discover more. 

The online resources section offers both general information and information for health professionals and researchers. General information includes links to trusted public health information sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), which provide overviews, updates, medical information, travel advisories and more regarding COVID-19. 

The content designed for health professionals and researchers provides more in-depth and academic studies regarding COVID-19 such as freely available resources provided by The Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine. 

The COVID-19 map and statistics section includes two regularly-updated maps depicting the geographic distribution and displaying select data on known COVID-19 cases. For those wishing to dig deeper, the suggested search terms section provides terminology and searches linked to PubMed for quick entry into research on COVID-19 and the current outbreak.

Information on COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, so the guide will be updated as links become obsolete and new information is known or resources become available. To help in this effort, VCU Libraries welcomes suggestions from the VCU community.


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