by Pete Mazzaccaro Flatten the curve. We’ve all heard the phrase. It’s what we’ve all been working to do, keeping our social distance in this, our third week of a city and state-wide …
by Pete Mazzaccaro
Flatten the curve. We’ve all heard the phrase. It’s what we’ve all been working to do, keeping our social distance in this, our third week of a city and state-wide stay-at-home order.
The idea is simple enough. There’s only so much we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19. Many experts believe most of us will be infected at one point or another. The best chance we have of preventing the high rates of death for those infected we saw in Italy, for example, is to slow the spread and make sure our hospitals are not overwhelmed by cases. If we can keep the number from surging, we flatten the curve, keeping that high line of cases lower, “flatter,” and give our hospitals a fighting chance to help those who become critically ill.
In Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, reported cases have seemed to plateau. The state hit its peak number of new cases on April 9 and has seen new reported cases fall for the last three days, as of this writing (April 13). The city hit a peak on April 4, and the rate has remained flat since, giving the City’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, hope that we’ve seen the worst of COVID-19 in the region.
This doesn’t mean that the work of flattening the curve is done. Farley and every other health expert have said that the positive results are thanks to the hard sacrifices made over the last three weeks, and that any relaxing of standards will result in the unraveling of all that has been positive so far. It would be a waste of everything we’ve done up to this point.
While it’s nice that our efforts seem to have had some success, the most important question now is: If we can’t return to some form of normal life now, when?
Every week over the last month, the Local has carried stories of businesses impacted by stay-at-home and business closure orders. Many workers have been laid off. Retail and restaurant owners have seen their revenues evaporate. There are now nearly 17 million Americans unemployed. A recession seems like a lock. A depression doesn’t seem out of the question.
Our biggest problem now is a dire lack of testing. No conversation about ending stay at home orders and returning to work can take place without widely available testing and a plan in place to track and handle positive cases when they occur. The state is currently only testing between 7, 000 and 8,000 residents per day. Late last week, less than 1% of the state’s population was tested.
We need to find a way to “re-open” for business, but the only way that can take place is if we can track where this virus is through widespread testing. If we can’t do that soon, we’ll have successfully flattened the curve but failed to learn what we need in order to leave our homes and get back to some semblance of normal.