Summit County Emergency Blog

Emergency blog
Activated during disasters and emergencies to provide critical public information. Administered by the Summit County Office of Emergency Management.

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Mar 18

What is “Flattening the Curve”?

Posted on March 18, 2020 at 3:17 PM by Julie Sutor

What is “Flattening the Curve” ?

You may have heard about “flattening the curve” and are wondering what it means. It means slowing the spread of COVID-19. The “curve” we’re talking about is the number of cases we see in our community over time. If the virus spreads really quickly, and we plot the number of cases over time, it looks like a big bell curve with a high peak. In this scenario, the peak of the bell curve - the period of time when the greatest number of people become infected at once - overwhelms hospitals and the health care system, as they struggle to adequately care for the large surge of severely ill patients.

On the other hand, if we practice rigorous social distancing and good hygiene practices, we can help slow down how quickly the disease spreads, and the peak of the bell curve is "flatter,"  and thus more manageable. The health care system isn't overwhelmed by a large surge, and the community has fewer people who suffer severe illness.

If you want to read more about “flattening the curve” and see some great graphics, check out this article in the Washington Post: