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Published on April 13, 2020

Flattening the Curve: How We Can All Help Using Social Distancing

Flattening the Curve: Interview with Bruce Swords, MD, chief physician executive, Cone Health

In this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2, Cone Health's chief physician executive Bruce Swords, MD, discussed the importance of continuing to practice social distancing as we all work together to flatten the curve. 

What does flattening the curve mean and why is it important during this pandemic?

"Many of your viewers have probably already seen this idea of a curve. If you think of a graph where there's a peak on the graph, the idea is to flatten the curve, to make the curve smaller. While doing that, the curve also extends. So what that really does is allow communities to manage the number of people who will get (in this case coronavirus) over a longer period of time, so there isn't an acute need that can't be managed, but rather there's a sub-acute need or a moderate need that can be managed over a longer period of time. ... There's resources in the communities, there's resources within our health care system that can't be used all at once, and it's easier to use those resources over a longer period of time."

When the curve does start to flatten, it's still not the time to stop social distancing. Why is that important?

"You're exactly right, when the curve starts to decrease, what that means is there are fewer people being diagnosed or hospitalized with coronavirus, but there is still ongoing transmission. So if all of a sudden, when we hit the top of the curve or even are on the downhill side of the slope or the curve, transmission is still happening. So if the door is opened, we can give it to each other again and we'd see a rise in the curve very quickly after that."

What can communities do to flatten that curve?

"I think you've already said it, and we've heard it a lot over the past month, and that is to stay away from each other. So the concept is avoid - not just avoid - don't be in large groups, period. Don't be around people other than your family, folks that you live in your own house, with some caveats to that. So going to the grocery store, going to a necessary physician office, there are some things that we have to do and even in those situations, we should be socially distant - staying away from each other, at least six feet."

2 Your Well-Being

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