Flattening the Curve

The "flattening the curve" chart illustrates the total number of potential COVID-19 cases that could be identified. A high curve means the virus is spreading quickly; some people may not get the medical care they need creating a potential for more death. A low curve means coronavirus is spreading slowly, which gives doctors the time and resources to treat more people and save more lives. 

Flatten the Curve

What does "flatten the curve" mean, exactly? Medical professionals, health experts, and the public are being called on to help flatten the curve in the graph to stagger the rate of coronavirus cases, so hospitals will be able to treat everyone who gets it or needs to be tested.

If the coronavirus is passed on too quickly and too many people become infected at one time, the resources available to fight it could quickly become overwhelmed. By staggering the number of COVID-19 cases over a longer period of time, everyone who becomes infected can have better access to care as resources are spreadout creating more time to replenish the tools health professionals need.

While flattening the curve may not be able to reduce the number of people who get infected with COVID-19, it ensures that the number of people dealing with it at any one time is limited. On the other hand, if the disease is allowed to progress at its natural pace, the curve on the graph would turn into a spike, causing massive issues for health professionals who are already stretched to their limits.

Ultimately, what flattening the curve does is remind us what the CDC and World Health Organization have been saying for months: wash your hands (frequently and properly), cough and sneeze into a tissue/your elbow, wear a face covering in public and stay home if you’re sick or fear you might have been exposed. You might think these measures are simply putting off the inevitable, but they’ll be the simple things the ultimately defeat COVID-19.

*This page is intended to be informational only and should not be considered to be professional health advice.