Flatten the curve. It’s a phrase heard again and again on the news and social media since COVID-19 made headlines, but it’s much more than a rally cry or trending hashtag. It’s a behavior—one that we as a society can contribute to—that directly impacts the spread of COVID-19 and our health care system’s ability to respond to the pandemic.
What is the curve?
The curve represents “the projected number of people who will contract COVID-19 over a period of time.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that number is somewhere from 160 million to 214 million over the next year in the U.S. alone.
Why is the curve important?
There are 924,107 hospital beds in the United States—far below the minimum COVID-19 infected population prediction. The majority of these beds are occupied by patients experiencing common health hurdles (illnesses, cancer treatments, births, surgeries, etc.). As the curve rises, our health care system’s capacity to care for infected people drastically decreases. Maxing out hospital beds, running out of supplies, and infecting medical staff pose a serious threat to the quality of care for all Americans—especially those whose lives are most at risk.
What can we do about it?
While 160-plus million infected Americans is a staggeringly high number, it is a prediction and not a reality—yet.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19. That’s why we need to work together to flatten the curve, or slow the spread of the virus. This is done through small changes in our behavior, such as social distancing, every day over time, as a community.
Together, we can slow the spread and keep our hospitals safe for those who need them most.