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What is "flattening the curve"?

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You may have seen a graph on social media called "flattening the curve." That graph shows a tall, narrow curve and a short, wide curve. Through the graph is a line that shows how many sick people U.S. hospitals can treat. The tall curve goes above the line. That means too many people are sick at one time: We won't have enough hospital beds for all the people who will need treatment. The flatter curve shows what happens if the spread of the virus slows down. The same number of people may get sick, but the infections happen over a longer span of time, so hospitals can treat everyone.

SOURCES:

CDC: "Cases in U.S.," "How it Spreads," "Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Homes and Residential Communities."

Columbia Mailman School of Public Health: "Public Health Rallies to 'Flatten the Curve.'"

Harvard Medical School: "Coronavirus Resource Center."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Coronavirus, Social Distancing and Self Quarantine."

Kaiser Health News: "Flattening the Curve and Social Distancing: Understanding the Drastic Measures That Experts Keep Talking About."

Michigan Health: "Flattening the Curve for COVID-19: What Does It Mean and How Can You Help?"

News release, National Institutes of Health.

Wisconsin Public Radio: “Social Distancing In Wisconsin: Your Questions, Answered.”

New England Journal of Medicine: “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1.”

China CDC Weekly: “Notes from the Field: Isolation of 2019-nCoV from a Stool Specimen of a Laboratory-Confirmed Case of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on September 23, 2020

SOURCES:

CDC: "Cases in U.S.," "How it Spreads," "Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Homes and Residential Communities."

Columbia Mailman School of Public Health: "Public Health Rallies to 'Flatten the Curve.'"

Harvard Medical School: "Coronavirus Resource Center."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Coronavirus, Social Distancing and Self Quarantine."

Kaiser Health News: "Flattening the Curve and Social Distancing: Understanding the Drastic Measures That Experts Keep Talking About."

Michigan Health: "Flattening the Curve for COVID-19: What Does It Mean and How Can You Help?"

News release, National Institutes of Health.

Wisconsin Public Radio: “Social Distancing In Wisconsin: Your Questions, Answered.”

New England Journal of Medicine: “Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1.”

China CDC Weekly: “Notes from the Field: Isolation of 2019-nCoV from a Stool Specimen of a Laboratory-Confirmed Case of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on September 23, 2020

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What is social distancing, and how does it help stop the spread of coronavirus?

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