“Flattening the Coronavirus Curve”: What You Can Do

As the Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, we have seen significant drops in numbers of deaths in places that have been determined to “flatten the curve.” Experts are saying that the only way to halt this pandemic is to starve it. America and nations around the world are attempting to do just that, by essentially cutting off life support to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

What does “Flatten the Curve” mean?

The goal in fighting a pandemic is to completely halt the spread of the virus. But merely slowing it, otherwise known as mitigation, is critical. Mitigation reduces the number of cases that are active at any given time, which in turn gives doctors, hospitals, police, schools, and vaccine manufacturers time to prepare and respond without becoming overwhelmed. Most hospitals can function with 10 percent reduction in staff, but not with half of their people out at once.

Some commentators have argued for getting the outbreak over with quickly. That is a recipe for panic, unnecessary suffering, and death. Slowing the tidal wave of cases will save lives. Flattening the curve keeps society going, accommodations to “normal society,” of course. 

Practical ways to “Flatten the Curve” 

1. Social distancing and sheltering in place

This means sheltering at home, getting your groceries delivered, working from home if you can, exercising at home, and ordering food in. Quarantining does not have to be boring or lonely. Stay home and catch up on your TV shows or read all of the books that collect dust on your shelves that you have been too busy to read because of the business of regular life. 

Take advantage of your newfound free time and take up a hobby like yoga, knitting, or learning to cook. You can also take this time to organize all of your neglected closets and drawers, arrange medications, listen to podcasts, garden, etc. With technology these days, you can video chat (with FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and even Google) to say hello to virtually anyone. The possibilities are endless! 

Why should I stay at home? 

Social distancing works, but it will take time to generate results. Before social distancing completely eliminates the transmission of COVID-19, it will have to slow the transmission of the virus. For this reason, when evaluating social distancing results, it is critical to remember that the United States is still comparatively in the early stages of this pandemic. So, take this seriously and do your part as a responsible citizen, and simply stay home.

2. Wash your hands

This might seem like common sense, but washing your hands regularly and well can help save your life and the lives of others.

When to wash your hands:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

For more tips on how to wash your hands thoroughly as possible, the CDC has created a hand washing tutorial.

If Americans take these protective measures early enough in the process, we can avoid more local outbreaks that rapidly spin out of control and turn into a crisis. The goal is to avoid these highly concentrated virus outbreak cases that exceed the capacity of the local healthcare systems. By social distancing/sheltering in place and washing our hands, our country may have a fighting chance to “flatten the curve.”

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