With universities and schools closing, sporting events being postponed or cancelled, and businesses moving towards a work-from-home environment, we are being told more and more to practice social distancing.
What this means is to decrease our interactions with other people. Not going out at night, going to events with big crowds, and staying inside more, all in an effort to, what epidemiologists call, “flatten the curve.”
This is a process to help slow the spread of the virus.
Drew Harris, a population health researcher at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, came up with the widely-spread graphic to show the benefits of why flattening the curve is important.
Our hospitals and medical staff are a finite resource, and if we don’t slow the spread, more people get sick all at once, which causes these resources to be flooded and overwhelmed. Soon enough, those resources won’t be available to everyone and there will be a shortage of them, which is what we are seeing right now in Italy. But by practicing social distancing, we would be able to help slow the spread so that people getting sick is over a longer period of time, meaning that hospitals won’t be overwhelmed and patients can be seen and treated in the proper ways.
f you think of our health care system as a subway car and it’s rush hour and everybody wants to get on the car once, they start piling up at the door,” says Harris. “They pile up on the platform. There’s just not enough room in the car to take care of everybody, to accommodate everybody. That’s the system that is overwhelmed. It just can’t handle it, and people wind up not getting services that they need.”
People will still get infected, but at a much more manageable rate, and more lives will be saved as a result.
The system shock of having to adjust to these changes is part of what is making the situation right now so difficult to swallow, but once we have adjusted, we can see significant benefits immediately, which is what we need.
Besides, couldn’t we all use a break from the outside? We have plenty of games and movies to binge on!
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