Flatten the curve, social distancing - Find out what these, and other common COVID-19 terms mean

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials are using terms that you may or may not know what they mean. Below is a quick guide and explanation to help you better understand what these terms mean for you.

COVID-19
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. (Source: CDC)

According to the CDC, the COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems.

Flatten the curve
The curve refers to the projected number of people who will contract COVID-19 over a period of time. New York Gov. Cuomo calls it a wave. According to Live Science, the faster the infection curve rises, the quicker the local health care system gets overloaded beyond its capacity to treat people. To flatten a curve means that a the same number of people will ultimately get infected, but over a longer period of time, which means a less stressed health care system.

Here's an analogy:

 

Social distancing
According to the medical community, social distancing is the best available way to slow the pandemic by making it more difficult for the virus to spread from person to person.

So how do you social distance? Avoid crowds of any size - this also means weddings and funerals have to be put on hold. The White House has provided guidance that you should avoid social gatherings groups of more than 10 people. Stay at least six feet away from all other people - that means no dine-in restaurants, cafes, bars, libraries, museums, movie theaters, hair/nail salons. Don't visit adults over 60 years of age or anyone else who may have a weaker immune system unless you have to do so.

Social distancing is trying to keep your distance from other humans. You can still go outdoors to open spaces away from other people.

 Quarantine/Isolation
According to the CDC, isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. (More from the CDC

Shelter in place, stay at home
These directives differ by location but generally require residents to avoid all non-essential outings and stay inside as much as possible. You can go to the grocery store, pharmacy, bank and health care provider.

New York PAUSE plan
New York Gov. Cuomo called the order the "New York State on PAUSE" plan, and it bans all nonessential gatherings of individuals "of any size for any reason." PAUSE stands for - Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone. Mass transit will stay operational; food delivery and takeout services will stay open, as will other essential businesses, such as gas stations and grocery stores.

Lockdown
In China when the lockdown was announced, schools and universities were already on holiday, but that was extended indefinitely. All stores closed except those selling food or medicine. Private vehicles were barred from the roads without special permission, and most public transport stopped, leaving the streets empty and silent. Initially people were allowed out of their homes, but restrictions soon tightened.

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