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How Social Distancing & “Flattening the Curve” are Saving Lives

Updated: Dec 25, 2021

You may have seen aggressive measures being taken to try and contain COVID-19. Entire cities are banning large gatherings, shutting down restaurants, and strongly encouraging businesses to allow employees to work from home. While these measures are certainly designed to limit the spread of the virus, as a pandemic, full containment is extremely difficult if not impossible.

Social Distancing

Social distancing refers to the practice of putting distance between yourself and others, ideally at least six or more feet. In major cities that may be difficult, so people are encouraged to avoid crowded situations as much as possible. That means, avoid going into the office, public transportation, restaurants, and any other areas that force you in close contact with others.

This is especially important because even if you’re young and generally not in danger of severe symptoms you may become a carrier and potentially spread the virus to people who are most at risk.

Source: CDC, Drew Harris

Flattening the Curve of the Pandemic

The term flattening the curve references how a chart of infections would look like without precautions like social distancing. The number of infections and severe symptoms would skyrocket in just a few days making a chart look like a steep hill. This sudden and severe uptick would cripple the current American healthcare system. The number of patients would exceed the number of hospital beds and mechanical respirators very quickly.

Italy is currently experiencing the crushing weight of COVID-19 and they are faced with choosing who lives and who dies because of the lack of medical equipment.

We want to flatten out the curve and delay serious cases as long as possible, so we don’t overwhelm the healthcare system all at once. While that means the pandemic might last longer, it would ensure that everyone who does get infected gets proper medical treatment leading to an overall lower mortality rate.

We already know flattening out the curve works in lowering overall mortality. We have solid historical data from the 1918 flu pandemic. Some US cities adhered to containment protocols while others did not. The cities that did not adhere to containment protocols suffered eight times more fatalities than the cities that did.

While all these containment protocols might seem extreme or even unimportant, precautions like social distancing and washing your hands often will definitely help lower the overall mortality of this virus.

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