How we can flatten the curve for COVID-19


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Dr. Jeff Harp from Highland Family Medicine discussed how flattening the curve for COVID-19 infections can reduce the severity of the pandemic Wednesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“In a pandemic, there are a certain number of people who are going to have the infection,” explained Dr. Harp. He referenced a graphic with a spiked purple-colored curve and then a lower, flatter curve with diagonal lines through it. “The purple curve is not the curve that we want. The curve that we want is the flatter curve there or the straightened curve. There is the same number of people involved in both of those situations but in the striped curve, it’s spread out a lot more over time. Now if you think about this, society has a certain capacity to deal with a number of sick individuals at a time. If you flatten out the curve you smush it below the capacity that the society has to deal with the problem. That pointy curve gets way out of control and there are just not enough resources to deal with what’s going on so we have to try to smush it.”

Dr. Harp said social distancing – physical distancing – is the key. “We can’t really emphasize this enough. This is a very serious situation and the way to do it for everybody to believe that this is true and to stay away from each other. I hate to say it that way, but to stay away physically – emotionally, electronically fine – but physically away from each other so there’s less transmission from person to person.”

Accordingly to Dr. Harp, the classic experiment to prove his point occurred in 1918 during the influenza pandemic. During that time one city continued on its normal path, while another city was vigilant about social distancing. The city that took no action had a death rate eight times that of the other city.

Dr. Harp said this is a lesson we should heed today as we endeavor to flatten the curve.

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