The phrase “flatten the curve” has been thrown around a lot as it relates to social distancing during the coronapocalypse. But what does that actually mean?
Many believe that social distancing has been implemented to keep us from getting sick — and that’s half true. The full truth is that we’re social distancing to flatten the curve of illness so that we don’t all get sick AT THE SAME TIME.
COVID-19 is a novel virus to humans, meaning we have no natural immunity (defense) to it. Therefore, until a viable vaccine is introduced, experts expect that 40%-70% of the U.S. population will be exposed to COVID-19 over the next 12-18 months. That’s an average of 160M people or half of the U.S. population.
We’re beyond containment at this point. The understanding is that most of us will become carriers eventually. That’s just how science works — no immunity, no protection. Flattening the curve is about care, not containment.
Our healthcare system would literally collapse under the pressure of 160M symptomatic patients at the same time. While this coronavirus is dominating the news cycle, people are still involved in car accidents, shootings, and other forms of trauma. Babies are still being born. People still need care for heart disease and cancer and poverty related illnesses. That hasn’t changed — COVID19 has only added to the burden.
Social distancing is to ensure that we don’t all get sick at the same time, so that those who are more likely to get sick, mainly seniors and immunocompromised folks, can be prioritized for care, while not displacing people who still require healthcare apart from the coronapocalypse.
So, while you’re home complaining about being quarantined, remember that you are a part of a larger system that is relying on you to make some sacrifices so that system might survive. This isn’t about who has COVID19 and who doesn’t — many of us will be exposed in due time — this is about ‘when.’
Help us #flattenthecurve now so that our healthcare infrastructure can survive this wave of infections and sustain through the next.