There’s a graph that’s been circling through social media that’s getting a lot of attention for all the right reasons.
There have been a number of different versions and it appears to have originated from The Economist. But ultimately it demonstrates, with absolute simplicity, the need to do everything possible to slow the spread of coronavirus.
It’s been described as one of the most important graphs of this current time.
It’s also visually empowering, demonstrating there’s a small role for everyone to take in minimising the harm done by this pandemic.
Hearing comments like ‘we are all going to get it anyway’ is not good enough. That may well be our destiny, but it doesn’t have to be one that sees our health system catastrophically overwhelmed. Such overwhelm will result in the most vulnerable members of the community missing out on vital care at their most desperate time of need.
But this graph shows another possibility.
Our #FlattenTheCurve graphic is now up on @Wikipedia with proper attribution & a CC-BY-SA licence. Please share far & wide and translate it into any language you can! Details in the thread below. #Covid_19 #COVID2019 #COVID19 #coronavirus Thanks to @XTOTL & @TheSpinoffTV pic.twitter.com/BQop7yWu1Q
— Dr Siouxsie Wiles (@SiouxsieW) March 10, 2020
I love this graph, and now its various versions, for its clarity, especially in justifying what can otherwise be seen as draconian and overly precautions measures like nationwide school closures, the cancellation of major events and major sporting events held in front of empty stadiums. In this graph, you realise that school closures are not about protecting your own children, they are about working together to put roadblocks in the way of the virus spread: to slow it and contain it, to give more time to spread out its devastation and therefore take the pressure off our healthcare system and potentially present more options for treatments and later a vaccine.
But most of all I love that this graph is circling the world, along with hashtags like #FlattenTheCurve and #StopCoronavirus. Never before have I felt so linked globally. We’re feeling a joint sense of anxiety and unease but also a united front in wanting one thing: an end to this virus in a way that limits its worst destruction.
When before has a hashtag or a slogan had the global potential to achieve such a real difference? When before has the potential for solidarity and working together has the potential to result in an outcome that clearly benefits everyone?
I imagine all the closures and cancellations give people a sense of ominousness. But it’s really an amazing act of social solidarity: We’re sacrificing so we can give nurses, doctors and hospitals a fighting chance. Start from there and hopefully we can figure out the rest.
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) March 12, 2020
Of course, this pandemic hurts, even leaving aside the thought of getting sick or seeing the virus bring down a loved one. It’s easy to jump to the thought of ripping the bandaid off quickly, getting this over with so we can return as fast as possible to normal. There are varying levels of pain being felt by everyone right now. Our jobs are precarious. Our businesses are suffering. We’re worried about how we’ll manage work if we have children at home. How we’d get through a period of self isolation. We’re cancelling plans and even now putting off making them. Events — professional and personal — are being postponed indefinitely.
It’s inconvenient, and we should rightly be concerned about what conversations are being missed regarding major priority areas like women’s rights, ending domestic violence and taking action on climate change during this period — especially when you see major gathering and avenues for discussion, such as the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, cancelled and opportunities for progress missed.
Of course, we all want to be talking about something other than Covid-19.
But this graph, a graph that shows how we’re spreading out the pain and anxiety in order to limit the suffering and most devastating affects, is something to always keep in mind.
Perhaps it’ll also show just what solidarity and collective action can actually achieve, and how it can be applied to other major challenges.
Globally, we all individually can play a part in flattening the curve through the most simple of actions: thoroughly washing our hands and teaching our kids better habits on hygiene that they will take much longer into their lives. We can try to avoid touching our faces, as experts have advised. Stay home if we feel sick. Take the 14 days of self isolation if exposed. Practice social distancing where possible. Get a flu vaccine.
i think the impulse for many people is to look at things closing down or events cancelling right now as a sign of doom, but for the most part i think it’s cause for optimism—someone in charge of something is taking this seriously, and doing what they can to limit interactions
— Amanda Mull (@amandamull) March 12, 2020
The push to #FlattenTheCurve can also lighten the mood regarding the personal measures we’re taking to ‘do our bit’. Finding yourself in an awkward moment of ‘do I, don’t I’ when it comes to greeting somebody with a handshake of kiss on the cheek? Let them know it’s not the concern of them infecting you, but rather it’s your opportunity to help #FlattenTheCurve.
We need to teach kids and young people that the actions they take could affect those in their lives they love most: their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, people with chronic health conditions, those who smoke. Show them this graph. Teach them how they too get to #FlattenTheCurve, get them singing songs and making up games about it. Tell them how little boys and girls all around the world are also trying to achieve exactly the same thing.
By now, we’ve seen the high risk categories for developing complications from coronavirus, and when you’re not in one, it can be easy to feel relieved and like there’s little to worry about — that all this is just an inconvenience. It’s not about you. It’s about everyone. Your job is to help #FlattenTheCurve.