Reading Response #3

In Barclay’s article about the coronavirus, she focuses on the idea of “flattening the curve.” This means that as time progresses, the number of cases is kept at a manageable level instead of an extreme peak over a shorter amount of time. While she writes that 20% to 60% of American adults will probably get COVID-19, she says that her priority is about slowing the rate of the spreading. The most vulnerable people right now are those over age sixty and people with chronic medical conditions. The main fear and thing to avoid are overwhelming the American healthcare system. If there are more people in need than there is hospital space, the worst-case scenario is prioritizing certain people over others. A specific limitation is ventilators. There is a fixed amount in hospitals and by the worst projections, there might be up to six times as much need as there are actual ventilators.

One thing that might seem counterintuitive is that increased social distancing and canceling events is not about lowering the total number of cases. Instead, the goal is to slow down the rate of new cases. Tom Frieden, who led CDC under the Obama administration, says that while widespread transmission can not be prevented at this point, explosive transmission can. By using an educating tone, Barclay is trying to get across what people’s goals should be during a pandemic. Instead of accepting that the total number of COVID-19 cases is not in our control anymore, the overall goal can be changed. With an emphasis on the rate of spreading, hopefully, the curve will be successfully flattened.


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