COVID-19: Flattening the Curve

The ongoing outbreak of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led non-essential businesses in every state to close their doors and inspired many state and local governments to issue stay-at-home orders.

Public health experts say our best way to avoid a catastrophic outbreak is to avoid crowds, stay indoors, and help “flatten the curve.”

Flattening the Curve

Early efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 failed — badly. Healthcare professionals now take it as a given that an overwhelming number of Americans will contract the virus. Our best hope, they suggest, is to keep infection rates as low as possible, which will keep hospitals and healthcare providers from becoming overwhelmed. This is what it means to “flatten the curve.”

The “curve” refers to the number of people who will contract COVID-19. Its shape depends on efforts to contain and control infection. A quick infection rate will result in a steep curve that depletes healthcare resources. Patients will be forced to go without care and deaths will increase. A flatter curve represents a more manageable number of infections over a longer period of time. This would keep hospitals from undue strain and enable sick individuals to receive treatment in a timely manner. It could also reduce healthcare workers’ risk of catching the disease and continuing to spread it.


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Experts are hopeful that efforts to flatten the curve can keep America’s mortality rate low. In South Korea, early containment efforts meant that just 1% of infections resulted in death.

Doing Your Part

Social distancing isn’t just a suggestion, it’s an imperative. With no cure and limited testing, helping to flatten the curve is among the best things we can do to address the crisis. What’s more, it’s an effort every American can (and should) join.

If they haven’t already, seniors should cancel all plans and begin avoiding any unnecessary trips out of the house. While outside, they are advised to practice good respiratory hygiene and, where possible, keep a distance of 6 feet between themselves and other people.

Most schools and non-essential businesses have already closed their doors to comply with social distancing guidelines. Many of those that remain open are offering seniors-only shopping hours to protect vulnerable patrons from infection. Seniors should look into these opportunities before making a trip to the supermarket or pharmacy.

Cancelling plans is inconvenient and staying inside all day certainly isn’t fun. Both are critical, however, if we want to slow the spread of COVID-19 as quickly as possible. Check in with Senior Life Advisor every day for more advice on staying happy and healthy while staying at home.