How Social Distancing Will Flatten the Curve

Here’s an easy-to-understand explanation of how social distancing works and why it is so important to our health care system and other resources provided by Ken Lyn-Kew, MD. He is a National Jewish Health pulmonologist and critical care physician who is on the front lines in intensive care units in Denver.



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Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew: Social distancing is vitally important for many reasons. Number one, this is a highly contagious virus. For every person who gets it, we believe around three people will catch it from them. So if three people catch it from them, and I can start to pull those people away, I can slow down the rate of transmission. All right? So that's number one.

Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew: Number two, if I do that, it takes longer for the virus to get through the community. If the virus is spreading at a rate that looks like this, and this is our capacity for a hospital to take care of it, once we cross this, everything falls apart. Right? And that's what we're close to seeing in New York, and that's what we've seen in Italy. That's what we saw in Central China. Right?

Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew: We know if we can flatten the curve ... There's another web search term. If we can flatten that curve instead of having a spike that looks like this and getting everybody sick at once, if we can get that spike to go like this and flatten it over a period of time, we can keep it ... While we might strain our resources, we might keep that below that threshold where everything falls apart. If we can keep it below that threshold where everything falls apart, we can continue to provide everybody good care, we can give time for resources and manufacturing to catch up to our needs as a country.

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