Additional Info - Biosafety


COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 - Biosafety Guidance & Resources for the Research Community

USF researchers are working to advance our understanding of COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, from basic science to translational medicine to clinical care—as well as to address concerns related to the pandemic from a variety of disciplines. Visit USF’s Coronavirus community news site at

To ensure safety of workforce and to facilitate timely research, please note the following:

All proposed laboratory or clinical based research and activities involving SARS-CoV-2 virus, rDNA or synthetic nucleic acid with viral genome, or with biospecimens containing the virus requires review and Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) approval prior to initiating work. A protocol  must be submitted to the IBC through our electronic platform, BiosafetyNet. For more information, visit the Forms and Templates and BiosafetyNet webpages.

Please note, if processing human samples with the intent to identify the suspected or known presence of SAR-COV-2 or for processing/using samples known or suspected to contain infectious SARS-CoV-2 (i.e. RNA extractions, serum/plasma separation/use, etc.) that is not a part of standard clinical care and is research related, and be conducted in USF lab facilities or areas, the IBC will review such applications.

The USF IBC is conducting online committee protocol reviews. The IBC review schedule has not changed, however if any protocol requires time sensitive review of rapid grants for CoVID-19 research, please identify such requests.

Please contact USF Biosafety group at or 813-974-5091 with additional questions.

Ongoing guidance about research activities will be updated when new information becomes available.


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans which causes the disease COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped, positive-sense RNA virus.

What is a novel coronavirus? The virus causing coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is novel and is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

How is the virus spread? It is not clear yet how SARS-CoV-2 spreads from person-to-person, however there are indications that person-to-person spread is occurring, likely between close contacts. This may be through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and possibly inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Officials are working to understand implications of possible transmission from infected but asymptomatic persons.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? People with COVID-19 report a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with the following symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19.

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    Or at least two of these symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Other Miscellaneous reports: blood clotting, stroke, “frost bite” inflammation in toes

In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 or any other virus, the following precautionary measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) should be followed:

  • Frequent handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water especially after touching any blister or sore, before preparing food and eating, and after using the toilet.
  • Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Note: The use of soap and water hand washing is preferred over alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing utensils, etc.) with those who are sick.
  • Keep those who are sick away from others until they are well.
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
  • Properly dispose of used tissues and diapers into waste bins that close properly.
  • Maintain general cleanliness.

To ensure the safety of our workforce, as we well as to enhance our ability to facilitate critical research, USF Research Integrity & Compliance (RIC) Biosafety Office is providing laboratory biosafety guidelines for research activities with SARS-CoV-2. Biosafety Containment for work with SARS-CoV-19 depends on the proposed experiments. Some may require BSL-3 and others might require BSL-2 or BSL-2 with enhancements.

SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Research Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines (PDF)


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

World Health Organization (WHO):

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

The American Chemistry Council's (ACC) Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC):

American Biological Safety Association (ABSA):

Other Resources: