The coronavirus crisis has introduced a lot of new words into daily vocabulary — words such as pandemic and asymptomatic and acronyms like PPE. All can be found in the dictionary or on websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the American Red Cross. But what do they mean in everyday life?
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Bertha Hidalgo, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, has translated some of coronavirus’s most-used terminology to help citizens better understand how the disease spreads and what can be done to stop it.
Flattening the curve
How the CDC defines the curve: a visual display of the onset of illness among cases associated with an outbreak.
What “flattening the curve” means during coronavirus: “You want to spread out the rate of infection so as to not overwhelm our health care system and infrastructure,” Hidalgo said. “If everyone is out and about, it’s more likely that everyone will get sick at once. But if you’re able to spread out how many people get sick, over time, patients can get the treatment they need because hospitals and other resources will not be exhausted.”
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