With mixed-messaging pouring in through social media and a lot of unknowns, one side effect of COVID19 is confusion! While it is natural to want to go about with “business as usual,” hitting pause and limiting public activity for the next few weeks is the best defense we currently have against the new virus.
In the case of a highly contagious infectious disease, such as COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health officials recommend protective measures such as social distancing. Aside from preventing disease transmission to more vulnerable populations, following protective measures also flattens the curve for daily cases, so that while the same amount of people may eventually get sick, it will not happen all at once.
This helps in two ways. First, the peak of the outbreak is delayed which gives our systems more time to research treatment options and prepare logistically (distributing tests, medical equipment, etc.). Second, it reduces the peak of the outbreak, reducing pressure on the health care system. When the daily number of cases exceed the health care system’s capacity, it results in fewer resources (e.g. medicine, respirators, hospital beds, medical professionals) being available especially for patients with serious cases and who are at the highest risk of dying. This can also translate into the inability to serve those with other medical issues, with people receiving no or inadequate care.
While protective measures may seem small (and frustrating!), if a community collectively practices social distancing and as many other protective measures as possible, the community impact can be great. So, even if your personal risk factors or low, please consider how each of our actions impacts the community as a whole, and help #FlattenTheCurve!