Flatten the curve: How one chart became a rallying cry against coronavirus

A bit of geeky jargon has become a rallying cry in the fight against the novel coronavirus, as people around the world try to “flatten the curve” by doing the little things necessary to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The term comes from public health experts, but it’s gone viral amid the coronavirus outbreak thanks to a few widely-shared infographics.

The “curve” refers to something called an epi curve, a graph line that charts the rise, peak and fall of existing infections over time.

The “flatten the curve” concept is simple: if everyone gets sick at the same time, hospitals will be overwhelmed and people will die without treatment. However, if everyone does what they can to avoid spreading the virus and “flatten” the infection numbers on any given day, hospitals will have a better chance of giving all patients the help they need over a longer period of time.

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