COVID-19 is a newly emerging viral respiratory disease first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The disease is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which is related to the viruses that cause SARS and MERS. While the case fatality ratio for COVID-19 (5%) is far lower than that for SARS (11%) and MERS (34%), COVID-19 is spreading relatively uncontrolled at this time across the globe. In contrast, SARS appears to be contained, and MERS is controlled. This paper will explore why COVID-19 is able to progress to a global pandemic that affects our daily lives to an extent not known in recent history. The COVID-19 outbreak and spread will be examined based on the current literature, using a researcher’s perspective of risk assessment and risk mitigation; this approach will be related to public health.