The “Curve Chart” explained

Many have been talking over the last several weeks about the importance of “flattening the curve” over the coming weeks. You may have seen charts displaying a high peak overlaid with a flattened and elongated peak. Many also include a horizontal line displaying hospital capacity. What does flattening the curve mean in practice though? This PBS video goes into detail about what flattening the curve means and what the various pieces of the chart display:

It is important to understand that this pandemic is fast-paced, and we learn new information on a sometimes hourly basis. While the underlying science and information in this video is solid and useful to understand, we must look at the data that has developed since the video was released to understand an important fact: the curve can no longer be flattened given the lack of testing availability on the forefront of this outbreak. All we can do now, through our social and physical distancing, is delay the ultimate peak of the infection rate as long as possible in order to improve our hospital’s capacity for response.

That does not mean the chart is useless, however. There is an important metric that can and must be altered to meet demand in the coming weeks: the horizontal bar indicating ICU capacity within our hospitals. By delaying the peak of the infection rate for as long as possible, we are able to utilize our supply chains and excellent engineers in Minnesota to build more ventilators, convert large spaces like stadiums into hospitals, and ensure that our healthcare system is ready and will not be overwhelmed when we reach peak infections. Together, Minnesotans are committed to listening to the data and following the best practices to defeat COVID-19 together. The curve may not be flattened, but the bar will be raised and Minnesota will be prepared to deal with this effectively and efficiently.