Special Report: COVID-19

Things You Can Do to Flatten the Curve

There are two essential ways you can help slow the transmission of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 through the community: personal sanitation and social distancing.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 20, 2020

There are two essential ways you can help slow the transmission of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 through the community: personal sanitation and social distancing.

Personal Sanitation

The virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted two main ways: from surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and from droplets in the air of contaminated fluid that are coughed or sneezed from someone who is infected.

The latest research suggests that the virus can survive for up to 3 hours suspended in droplets in the air, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to several days on steel, plastic and laminated surfaces.

Social Distancing

Social distancing is arguably even more important than personal sanitation. The more effectively we reduce the number and intensity of interactions between people, the more we reduce the rate at which COVID-19 spreads to new people, and the better chance our medical health system has of being able to provide intensive care to everyone who needs it.

Aggressive distancing will make a massive difference in how quickly the infection spreads, and that will make a massive difference in how many people survive the infection.

It is already expected that 30-70 percent of Canadians will be infected. Let's be conservative and take the low number: that's 11.3 million people. If 15 percent of those people need hospital care, that's 1.7 million patients. And if one-third of those people need intensive care, that's over 500,000 ICU beds.

Canada only has 57,000 hospital beds in total. If those 1.7 million people who need hospitalization, including more than 500,000 people who need intensive care, all come down with COVID-19 within a short time frame, our medical system will be totally and catastrophically overwhelmed and people who need intensive care to survive will not receive it.

If you've been wondering why the government seems to be taking such extreme measures, this is why. Here is what you can do to help:

Finally, it's really important to keep in mind that this is not binary. It's really a numbers game at this point. Doing a few of these things is better than doing none of them. Doing a lot of these things is better than doing a few. Doing all of these things is better still.

The more people that do more of these things more consistently, the slower this infectious disease will spread, the less overwhelmed the health care system will get and the more people will survive.

We will get through this emergency if enough of us are willing to make some personal sacrifices, work together and take care of each other.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

2 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted March 20, 2020 at 12:07:11

A trusted aggregate source to watch is https://www.worldometers.info/coronaviru...

Scroll down to the "Confirmed" section and click on the country names in the left column; And you'll see some countries (such as China) are now successfully flattening the curve, but look at the USA curve -- totally scary (as of March 20, 2020) -- especially the ultra-geometric death rate occuring in the last 7 days -- and USA stats looks scarily like the beginnings of a Italy-style curve trajectory at the moment for the states (Italy has more deaths than China now) -- if you compare the beginning parts of the graphs!

I'd embed PNG charts but I'd create a mass-panic. They ARE downright scary and it was probably (sigh) a good idea to shut down our border. If you dare to look at the graphs daily, you've been warned.

But good news: Canada has some hints of (so far) following a better trajectory that more resembles Japan or Norway which seems (as of March 20th) to be managing to begin to flatten the curve. Hopefully what we're doing will continue.

Let's keep it that way.

P.S. Make sure you have supports, family, spouse, close friends you can talk to. I've been using videophone way more. Order additional cameras delivered and put them on top of all monitors, all TVs, and make video one button press away on any of your bigger screens (whether be FaceTime, Skype, Google Video, Facebook Messenger, or all the above). Not just your phones. Video helps a lot to ease anxiety. Even if you talk to accquaintices if you don't have many friends. Also, have old spare 480p Logitech cameras in your junk drawer? Bring them back out as extra cameras or offer them to friends. Most old USB cameras still work today automatically under current OSes.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2020-03-20 12:23:41

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By grok (registered) | Posted April 11, 2020 at 13:52:10

Everyone please keep in mind that the POINT of all this is NOT how 'wunnerful' the governments' and corporations' are, for finally responding in some half-assed, 'responsible', organized manner to this WHOLLY-AVOIDABLE Global crisis; it's how miserably these capitalist shits have responded overall in the FIRST place. Because, when you get right down to it -- this is a story of long-standing MALIGN MALFEASANCE on their part. For 4 Neoliberal 'Free Market' DECADES now. And not to mention a good measure of Malice Aforethought classwar thrown in.

We owe these fu*#ers NOTHING. Certainly not our loyalty or thanx.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds