We learned a new word one year ago. And a few more since.

Updated: Feb 12

About this time last year we were learning about a new virus-- and a new word that would change our world. It was February 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization came up with the word that quickly moved to the tips of all of our tongues, COVID.

The first case officially noted in the United States was on January 21, 2020. What we didn't realize a year ago, in February 2020, was that the very next month, March 2020, would be the moment all 50 states had reported cases of COVID-19.

Now, there are more than 26 million confirmed COVID cases in the United States and at least 461,725 deaths.

But a trend towards hope is that tens of millions of Americans have immune systems that are forming COVID antibodies right now. More than 39 million COVID vaccine doses have been given so far, including about 30 million Americans who received a first dose and more than 8 million Americans receiving 2 doses of either Moderna or Pfizer's vaccine.

If you're interested in following COVID numbers and trends, visit the CDC's website to find maps and charts tracking cases, deaths, and COVID-19 trends in the United States.


But COVID wasn't the only new word we learned in 2020. Many learned what PPE stands for- personal protective equipment. We learned the difference between a respirator and a ventilator. A respirator is a kind of mask. A ventilator is a machine that helps with breathing.


And another new word overheard in dermatology clinics all over, maskne. Mask + acne = maskne. I asked Dr. Rina Allawh, board-certified dermatologist, about maskne. She says it's real and "there may be some debris, dirt or oil on the part of the mask that touches our face directly. The debris from the mask itself and the fibers in the material of the mask or cloth used to protect ourselves may in turn clog the opening of hair follicles and may trigger an acne breakout."


Finally, is covidiot a word? I've heard it, seen it on social media, and used it a few times, but was never sure I was saying it correctly. According to macmillan dictionary, a free online dictionary, covidiot is a word- one with two meanings. The first definition I was generally familiar with, "an insulting term for someone who ignores health advice about COVID-19." But I wasn't aware covidiot also describe someone who "hoards food unnecessarily!"


Cheers to a better 2021 with fewer new words associated with viruses.