The Importance of Flattening the Curve

Ana Martinez, Design Editor

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread far beyond what anyone expected, with more than 1.5 million cases confirmed globally. Although the pandemic currently affects the country, citizens can still take action to reduce the amount of people affected. After all, slowing the spread of the infection is just as important as stopping it.

A graphic published by the CDC and later republished by the Economist demonstrates the idea of two curves. One curve shows the spread of the virus without any given protective measures, like social distancing. The curve quickly slopes upward, peaking earlier than the second curve. The second curve, with given protective measures, reflects a more gradual increase, a lesser amount of cases and a later peak time than the first curve.

The second, slower curve demonstrates the ideal goal of flattening the curve. While stopping the spread of a pandemic disease entirely remains optimal, slowing the spread is also critical. 

A flattened curve would give police, schools and vaccine manufacturers more time to prepare and respond to the virus. More importantly, a flattened curve and smaller number of cases would leave more space at hospitals, bringing relief to doctors. While critics have argued for trying to end the virus more quickly, this situation would be a recipe for disaster, causing  an unnecessary amount of death, panic and suffering due to the limited amount of space in medical facilities.

In light of this, Florida has taken measures to reduce the number of cases, with a statewide stay-at-home order issued by Florida governor Ron  DeSantis on April 1, 2020. Residents now must stay inside their homes unless they need essential goods or services, such as first responders, health care and food. 

Although the order has been in place, many people have decided to ignore it to hang out with friends or other family members, thinking that they could never get COVID-19 or they would easily survive it. However, those who do not social distance pose a risk for spreading the virus to those with high-risk conditions, and the virus remains capable of putting a healthy person of any age in a critical condition. 

At the same time, people may experience no symptoms while having COVID-19. This stresses the importance of social distancing — one can easily and unknowingly spread the virus without knowing it. As a result, cases of COVID-19 will continue to increase, causing preventable deaths. Moreover, the virus can also spread as easily as through coughing or by touching infected surfaces. 

During this scary stage of the coronavirus, it remains critical to help flatten the curve. All citizens should work together in ending the virus through staying at home and social distancing. This teamwork will positively impact both the country and the world, reducing deaths and increasing space in hospitals. Of course, staying at one’s home will not cure the virus, but it will prevent the spread.